Spring 2013: ASTR 6000
Astrophysics Seminar: "Supernovae"

Instructors: Michael Shull and Emily Levesque

Class Meeting Times: Thursdays (3:30 - 4:30 pm)
Duane E126 (Duane Physics & Astrophysics)

Course information (also see list of topics below)

Instructor: Contact Information

Goals of the Seminar:

To show graduate students how to critically read, evaluate, write, and referee scientific papers. Students will become familiar with frontiers of research, develop independent ideas for research, and gain experience in making effective public oral presentations at conferences, interviews, and other professional venues.

Astrophysics Seminar - "Supernovae"

ASTR 6000 is the graduate astrophysics seminar, tied to this semester's course on High-Energy Astrophysics (ASTR 5710). After an introduction to the topic by the instructors (first two meetings), the students will read, present, and discuss scientific papers on various aspects of Supernovae, which mark the final stage of many stars' lives, at the endpoint of stellar evolution. These explosions come in many types and from several mechanisms, including gravitational core collapse of massive stars, accretion-driven thermonuclear explosions of white dwarf binaries, and pair-production pulsational instability in the core collapse of very massive stars. This seminar will cover current research papers on observations, explosion mechanisms, SN nucleosynthesis, and radiative emission processes. We will also discuss supernova remnants, as observed at high energy (X-ray and gamma-ray), and the connections between SNe and Gamma-Ray Bursts. Finally, we will discuss the use of Type Ia supernovae as "standard candles" for cosmological distance measurements. For those who want to start reading about Supernovae and Supernova Remnants (SNRs), this list below gives three review papers, followed by two websites with general background on SNe and SNRs (written for the public). Just click on the underlined links.

  • Optical Spectra of Supernovae (Filippenko 1997) ARAA, 47, 309-355

  • The Physics of Core-Collapse Supernovae (Woosley & Janka 2005) Nature Physics, 1, 147-154

  • Nucleosynthesis and Remnants in Massive Stars of Solar Metallicity (Woosley & Heger 2007) Physics Reports, 442, 269-283

  • Supernovae and Supernova Remnants (Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

  • Supernovae (classification and light curves)

    Seminar Format:

    This seminar will meet 15 times during the term, each Thursday from 3:30-4:30 pm, starting on January 17 and ending on May 2. The first two seminars will be overviews by Shull (Jan 17) and Levesque (Jan 24), with accompanying review papers (see list below). The next 13 sessions will be devoted to reading and discussing scientific papers. We will assign teams of 2 students to lead the discussions of the "paper of the week". Each student will be responsible for leading the discussion of two papers (2 sessions) but all students are responsible for reading the weekly paper. Please come prepared to describe and discuss the major results of the papers. In many cases, these articles are available on-line (click on the underlined links).

    All students must read the weekly papers and participate in the class discussion. Before each seminar, students will be asked to write down (and hand in) one or two questions about the main points in the article.

    Seminar Topics & Discussion Leaders: