High-Energy Astrophysics

High-Energy Astrophysics

Course Code: TBD

Course Name: High-Energy Astrophysics

Credits: 2.0

Level: TBD

Pre-requisite: Classical Physics, Modern Physics, Introductory Astrophysics, Radiation processes in astrophysics

Lecture Time: 40 hours

Course Description

As an interdisciplinary branch of astrophysics and space science, high-energy astrophysics studies the highly energetic processes in the extreme physical condition related to exotic objects and environment. This course provides advanced undergraduate and graduate students with the basic concepts and methodology of studying the high-energy universe in both observational and theoretical approaches. The course introduces the principles of the detection tools, data analysis method and the theoretical framework of the subject, with emphasis given to X-ray astronomy. The observational facts and theoretical interpretation of various objects and phenomena as revealed by high-energy radiation in the electromagnetic-wave spectrum are explored.    


1. Introduction and the high-energy sky (3 hours) 

1.1.   Introduction and basic concepts

1.2.   Basic energy source

1.3.   Sky as seen in high-energy radiation

2. X-ray astronomical exploration and observation methods (3 hours)

2.1 Detection principle and methods

– Principles of X-ray and gamma ray detectors (proportional counter, scintillation detector, MCP, Si detector)

– X-ray telescope principle (collimator, coded mask, focusing telescope)

– Important high-energy astronomical satellite

2.2 Observation principles and methods

- Imaging

- Spectral analysis

– Temporal analysis (power spectrum, QPO, etc.)

2.3 Data Analysis Method

– Principles and methods of X-ray data processing analysis

– How to get data

- Classroom demonstrations and student practice exercises

3. Physical processes in high energy astrophysics (2 hours)

3.1 The basis of radiation process and the interaction with substances

– Radiation processes (blackbody, bremsstrahlung, synchrotron radiation, Compton scattering, etc.)

– Interaction with substances (photoelectric effect, absorption, etc.)

3.2 Radiation Mechanism and Astrophysical Process

– accretion process

– shock wave

– Jet

4. Compact objects (13 hours)

4.1 White dwarf

– Electron degeneracy

– Various accretion white dwarfs

4.2 Neutron Star

- Pulsar

– Isolated neutron star

– accretion of neutron stars

- X-ray bursts

4.3 Constant-rated black holes

– The nature of the black hole

– Black Hole X-Ray Binary

– Micro-quasars

– Determination of black hole spins, examination of space-time bending

– Observing the distinction between black holes and neutron stars

4.4 Supernova remnants

5. Extragalactic high-energy radiation (12 hours)

5.1.   Link of X-ray binary and active galactic nuclei 

5.2.   Supermassive black holes and active galactic nuclei

5.3.   X-rays from normal galaxies

5.4. X-rays from cluster of galaxies

5.5. Cosmic X-ray background radiation

6. Time-domain high-energy astrophysics and high-energy transients (3 hours)

6.1.  Timing and sky monitoring

6.2.   Gamma-ray bursts

6.3.  Other types of transients

6.4. Multi-messenger astrophysics

7. Projects and report discussions (4 hours) 



[1] Exploring the X-ray Universe, F.D. Seward and P. A. Charles (SC), Cambridge University Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-521-88483-9

[2] High-energy Astrophysics, Fulvio Melia, Princeton Series in Astrophysics; ISBN



[1] High-Energy Astrophysics: Third Edition, by M.S. Longair (LIII) Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-521-75618

[2] Handbook of X-ray Astronomy (Cambridge Observing Handbooks for Research Astronomers), K. Arnaud, R. Smith and Aneta Siemiginowska, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0521883733