Astrophysical Concepts

From the subatomic nuclear reactions controlling the life and death of stars, to the largest cosmological structures dominated by dark matter and dark energy, our Universe is shaped by processes covering a vast range of size scales and energy regimes. Researchers at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University are engaged at the forefront of developing our understanding of these processes. In this module, five world-leading astrophysicists will discuss the latest astrophysical thinking and research in five core areas of astrophysics — the solar system and extrasolar planets, stars, the interstellar medium, galaxies, and cosmology — and debate the current status of some of the biggest open questions in astrophysics, e.g. What are the chances of finding life on other planets? What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy?

The topics in the module will develop an understanding of:

- The laws of celestial mechanics and Newtonian gravity to understand and predict the behaviour of celestial bodies.

- The nature of the various bodies in the Solar System, and the ongoing processes that give them their characteristics.

- The current state of knowledge of Extra-solar planets (exoplanets).

- The theory of planet formation and the key problems faced by the theory.

- How stellar structure can be probed using observable quantities and simple physical principles.

- The changes in structure and energy sources for stars throughout their lives.

- The structure and evolution of the interstellar medium and the relationship between its various components.

- The relation of the interstellar medium to the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies.

- The structure, internal dynamics and evolution of all types of galaxies including spiral, elliptical, lenticular and dwarf types.

- The detailed contents of galaxies, including the evidence for dark matter and black holes.

- The contributions made by different observational wavelength regimes to our understanding of galaxies.

- The distance scale, Hubble expansion, and curved space time.

- The basic ideas, most important discoveries and outstanding problems in modern cosmology.

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