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PHY3043 : Interstellar Medium & High Energy Physics

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Andrew Fletcher
  • Owning School: Mathematics, Statistics and Physics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The gas and dust which occupies the space between stars in a galaxy is known as the interstellar medium (ISM). The composition and properties of the ISM will be discussed in this module, along with its central role in the stellar cycle and galactic evolution. Students will learn how astronomical observations are used to derive the physical properties of the ISM and which physical processes govern the state of the interstellar gas and dust. Theoretical models for some of the diverse objects in the ISM, such as HII regions and supernova remnants will be derived and critically examined.

Outline Of Syllabus

Observations of the ISM and their interpretation. Heating and cooling of the gas. Properties of interstellar dust. Cloud collapse and star formation. Ionization and HII regions. Gas dynamics and shocks: stellar winds and supernova remnants. Cosmic rays: acceleration and synchrotron radiation.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Formal lectures - present in person
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion215:0030:00Completion of in course assignments
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion111:0011:00Examination revision
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Exam
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study351:0035:00Preparation time for lectures, background reading, coursework review
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used for the delivery of theory and explanation of methods, illustrated with examples, and for giving general feedback on marked work.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A80N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prob solv exercises2M10Problem-solving exercises
Prob solv exercises2M10Problem-solving exercises
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A substantial formal unseen examination is appropriate for the assessment of the material in this module. The coursework assignments allow the students to develop their problem solving techniques, to practise the methods learnt in the module, to assess their progress and to receive feedback; these assessments have a secondary formative purpose as well as their primary summative purpose.

In the event of on-campus examinations not being possible, an on-line alternative assessment will be used for written examination 1.

Reading Lists