Fluids and Plasmas: Ph 609 Spring 2008
The course will present some aspects of fluid mechanics and the
physics of plasmas. While the course has a strong emphasis on
applications to astronomy, it should be of value to students in all
walks of physics and applications in other areas will creep in from
time to time. All students with PhD research projects in astronomy
should take this course.
No graduate level astronomy courses are required as background, but
the course will assume standard graduate level preparation in
Logistics The class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays at 1:40pm
in SEC room 212.
My room number is W308 in the Serin labs and internal telephone
extension 5-5287. I have no particular office hour - please feel free
to come to see me at any reasonable time.
I will work closely from Gas Dynamics, Volume II of The
Physics of Astrophysics (1992) by Frank H. Shu (University Science
Books). I like it because it adopts an informal and practical
approach, but unfortunately there are quite a few typos in the
math, some of which are listed
(If you find a typo I have not noted, please let me know.)
I will attempt to work through the book at the approximate rate of one
chapter per lecture with the following exceptions:
I know of no other book that covers both fluids and plasmas at the
right kind of level. Other books that might contain helpful material
- Chs 2 - 4 (formal derviation of basic equations): condensed
because they are tedious book work
- Chs 5 & 10 (hydrostatic structure of stars, planets, etc.
and mixing length theory of convection): omitted because they are
covered in 541
- Chs 11 & 12 (spiral density wave theory): omitted because this
topic is covered in 607
- Astrophysical Hydrodynamics by Steven Shore gives a different
perspective, but has no plasma physics.
- An alternative presentation of the main concepts, but with few
astronomical examples, is Physical Fluid Dynamics by
D. J. Tritton. Copies of this book are in the physics library
- For those who like rigor, the standard reference is Fluid
Mechanics by Landau & Lifshitz.
- A still drier work, to which I refer from time to time, is
Hydrodynamic and Hydromagnetic Stability by S. Chandrasekhar.
- I will also occasionally refer to Galaxy Dynamics by
Binney & Tremaine. The Appendices are particularly helpful for this
Notes for my lectures will be available ahead of each class, but are
password protected. I will give out the username and password in
class that will enable you to access them from here.
There will be two main methods of assessment: homework and a term
paper, although I will also give some credit for class participation.
Homework questions will be drawn from the textbook, possibly
supplemented by other questions.
The term paper should be on a topic closely related to the course. It
should be a review of research papers, going into more detail than in
the lectures and should include your own appraisal of the work
reviewed. It will count 50% of your grade and will be assessed in
a) A preliminary plan (5%) is due by March 12. It should be in note
form (about 1 page), state the main issues to be discussed in the final
paper and list some relevant research and/or review papers.
b) The written paper (30%), which must be typewritten and
approximately 12 pages in length, is due by April 21. The paper
should constitute a critical assessment of the recent literature on
the topic chosen and not simply be a summary of one or two papers.
c) Oral presentation (15%): You will make a half hour presentation of
your paper to the rest of the class. The presentation will be
assessed for a clear explanation of why the topic is of interest, the
central few points of the paper, statements of the main uncertainties
and criticisms, and finishing within the allotted time. Presentations
will be in classes in the last week or so of the semester.