The existence of black holes was debated through the last decades of the 20th century. Now, it is believed they exist in most, if not all galaxies, including our own. What has changed? In this course, as students read from popular articles (e.g. Scientific American, Nature and others) based on the latest scientific research and modern instruments, they will explore black holes through gravity's eyes, from its formation to its evaporation, and associations (if any) with dark matter. The course will end with a brief look at antigravity, a.k.a. dark energy?
Each week, a speaker (ordinarily faculty in the fall and students in the spring) will describe research in progress. Forum participants will discuss the ongoing work with the presenter, offering both questions and suggestions.
This course provides an introduction to the physical principles describing galaxies and the composition and evolution of the Universe. Topics include the interstellar medium; star clusters; the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way; other galaxies; clusters of galaxies; active galaxies and quasars; cosmology; and the early universe. This course includes an observational component: In addition to observing galaxies with the Science Center Clay Telescope, students will use the millimeter-wavelength telescope at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics to measure the rotation velocity of the Milky Way galaxy and to determine its mass.
Observations of the Universe reveal a host of compact objects with deep gravitational potential wells: black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs. A number of energetic phenomena are seen to be associated with these remarkable objects. The course will survey the field and will describe the underlying physical principles, including ideas from relativity, which allow us to understand the observations.
Aims to focus on the modern questions in Astrophysics from radio to gamma rays. Course will be rooted in recent observational and theoretical results focused on black hole systems, dark energy, and cosmology. Some attention will also be given to the details of extant and future ground and space-based instruments devoted to answering some of these questions.