Physics Project - Spring 2012
Project Advisor: Prof. Rennan Barkana

General Information:

The general idea is to choose a recent research paper in astrophysics, and to learn enough about its background to understand the paper. The final goal is to prepare and present a 20-minute talk on the paper and the background topics in astrophysics.

Feel free to search for papers on your own, but you need to obtain my approval for your chosen paper. You can use search engines such as ADS (Astrophysics Data System) (search by words in the title or in the abstract) or arXiv (preprint server).

You can search for reviews and news articles (as well as technical articles) in Science and Nature. I also recommend searching for articles in Physics Today and Physics World (for physicists) or in Scientific American (more general). Reviews and non-technical articles are good for background knowledge, but the main paper must be a technical research paper.

Wikipedia is a good starting point for Web info and links on astrophysical subjects. For general background, a good source for non-technical astrophysics is the book "The Physical Universe, An Introduction to Astronomy" by Frank Shu. This book is fairly old (1982), but all the topics that are covered there are explained clearly and physically.

Essentially any topic in astrophysics is possible as a project, although I prefer something related to Cosmology. Below is a list of 5 examples of topics, each with the corresponding main paper.


1) Cosmic reionization by early stars

Bowman & Rodgers 2010
A lower limit of Delta z > 0.06 for the duration of the reionization epoch

2) Cosmic expansion extrapolated into the future

Loeb 2002
Long-term future of extragalactic astronomy

3) Gravitational lensing and dark matter

Jee et al. 2012
A Study of the Dark Core in A520 with the Hubble Space Telescope: The Mystery Deepens

4) Cosmological simulations, large-scale structure

Springel et al. 2005
Simulations of the formation, evolution and clustering of galaxies and quasars

5) Cosmological simulations, first star

Abel, Bryan, and Norman 2001
The Formation of the First Star in the Universe

Some online links for general info (with many more links at these web sites):

Basic information and links on astronomy and cosmology: