PHYS 1303 Syllabus - Stars and Galaxies
Instructor of Record: John L. McClain, Ph.D.
Office Location: MBS 1153
Office Phone: 254.298.8406
Office Hours: posted on office door
Mailing Address: 2600 South First Street, Temple, Tx 76504

Course Description:
An introductory astronomy course focusing on objects outside our solar system. Topics include the life cycle of stars and galaxies, the fate of the universe, the exploration of the universe by astronomers, and the understanding of the principles that lie behind the functioning of the universe such as gravitational forces, nuclear forces, atomic spectra, and astronomical tools as they provide knowledge about distant objects. Recent developments and discoveries will be emphasized.
State Approval Code: 40.0201.51 03
Lab Hours per Week: 0
Lecture Hours per week: 3

Core Curriculum: State Criteria
Basic Intellectual Competencies: Those marked with a reflect the State-mandated competencies taught in this course.
Critical Thinking
Computer Literacy
Perspectives: Those marked with a reflect the State-mandated perspectives taught in this course.
Establish broad and multiple perspectives on the individual in relationship to the larger society and world in which he/she lives, and to understand the responsibilities of living in a culturally and ethnically diversified world.
Stimulate a capacity to discuss and reflect upon individual, political, economic, and social aspects of life in order to understand ways in which to be a responsible member of society.
Recognize the importance of maintaining health and wellness.
Develop a capacity to use knowledge of how technology and science affect their lives.
Develop personal values for ethical behavior.
Use logical reasoning in problem solving.
Integrate knowledge and understand the interrelationships of the scholarly disciplines.
Natural Sciences Exemplary Objectives: The objective of the study of a natural sciences component of a core curriculum is to enable the student to understand, construct, and evaluate relationships in the natural sciences, and to enable the student to understand the bases for building and testing theories. Those marked with a reflect the State-mandated perspectives taught in this course.
1.To understand and apply method and appropriate technology to the study of natural sciences.
2.To recognize scientific and quantitative methods and the differences between these approaches and other methods of inquiry and to communicate findings, analysis, and interpretation both orally and in writing.
3.To identify and recognize the differences among competing scientific theories.
4.To demonstrate knowledge of the major issues and problems facing modern science, including issues that touch upon ethics, values and public policies.
5.To demonstrate knowledge of the interdependence of science and technology and their influence on, and contribution to, modern culture.

Course Objectives
Successful completion of this course will promote the general student learning outcomes listed below. Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able:
1.To become acquainted with the basic fundamental physical laws and principles which govern and give meaning to our universe.
2.To develop an understanding of scientific methods and the evolution of scientific thought.
3.To explain physical phenomena in proper, clear, technical terms.
4.To correctly identify basic physical principles and specify the procedural knowledge to arrive at a solution for some desired unknown, when presented with problem situations.
5.To demonstrate mathematical skills necessary to carry an argument from the "givens" to the "to finds" alluded in (4) above.
Successful completion of this course will promote the specific student learning outcomes listed below. Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able:
1.To describe the basic properties of stars: distance, spectral class, motion, magnitude, composition, and parallax.
2.To discuss the classification scheme of stars as to spectral classes.
3.To explain the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and how it relates to stellar evolution.
4.To explain the stages of stellar evolution as the birth, life, and death of any size star.
5.To explain the interstellar medium and how it relates to atoms, molecules, dust, and nebulae.
6.To identify the classification scheme for binary stars, the importance of binary stars to astronomy, and the origin and evolution of binary systems.
7.To describe the various types of natural star groupings in our galaxy and how they evolved.
8.To describe the structure of our galaxy (both historical and modern) and the galactic coordinate system.
9.To describe the two major stellar population types and their characteristics.
10.To identify the Hubble classification scheme of galaxies.
11.To describe the Doppler shift as it relates to astronomical objects.
12.To describe Hubble’s Law and its implication for an expanding universe.
13.To explain the cosmological principle.
14.To identify current astronomical beliefs about the nature and origin of the universe.

Course Content
This course convers the following topics:
Unit 1
 •  Describe the size of the universe.
 •Explain the significance of the various forms of light and how they are used in astronomy.
 •Describe the kinds of telescopes.
 •Discuss the various objects seen in the sky and explain their characteristics and significance.
 •Identify the major constellations and explain how the celestial coordinate system is used.
 •Describe the stellar spectra and its significance in classifying stars.
Unit 2
 •  Describe the general and specific characteristics of the sun.
 •Determine luminosity and diameter of a star.
 •Explain the significance of the H-R diagram.
 •List and discuss the basic properties of stars and star clusters.
 •Explain the process of star formation.
 •Confirm the existence of the interstellar medium from which the new stars are born.
Unit 3
 •  Discuss the stages of stellar evolution.
 •Describe the deaths of stars.
 •Discuss neutron stars and black holes.
 •Analyze the Milky Way Galaxy.
Unit 4
 •  Summarize the process of determining the structure and important physical phenomena that shape the structure and control the dynamics of the components of our galaxy.
 •Construct and test theories to describe the evolution of galaxies.
 •Describe the key concept of all the active galaxy classes.
 •Discuss the large scale structure of the universe and the theories that modern science has developed to explain the structure and evolution of the universe.

Measurable Learning Outcomes
The following is a list of the measured outcomes for this course. These outcomes are measured using reports generated from MasteringAstronomy
 •  Apply the relationship between the apparent brightness, luminosity and distance of a star.
 •Apply the relationship between the observed parallax angle and the distance to a nearby star.
 •Apply the scientific method in lab experiences to interpret information and draw conclusions.
 •Arrange in increasing order the average density of matter in the form of stars, the average density of dark matter, and the average density of matter needed for gravity to stop the expansion.
 •Arrange star clusters in order of increasing age based on H-R diagrams of their stars.
 •Arrange the four fundamental forces in order of increasing strength.
 •Arrange the major bands of the electromagnetic spectrum in order of wavelength, frequency, or photon energy.
 •Arrange the major layers of the Sun in order of increasing distance from the center.
 •Arrange white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes and other astronomical objects by mass or size.
 •Classify galaxies as either spiral, elliptical, or irregular.
 •Construct an H-R diagram from a data set listing the luminosities and surface temperatures, spectral types, or colors of stars.
 •Define the terms dark matter and dark energy.
 •Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of scientific inquiry.
 •Demonstrate the ability to make connection between concepts across astronomy.
 •Demonstrate the ability to think critically and employ critical thinking skills.
 •Demonstrate the quantitative skills needed to succeed in an astronomy course for non-scientists.
 •Describe how a black hole distorts space-time as it appears to something falling into it or to a distant observer.
 •Describe how a high mass star evolves after fusion exhausts the hydrogen in its core.
 •Describe how a Sun-like star evolves after fusion exhausts the hydrogen in its core.
 •Describe how conservation of angular momentum affects the formation of stars.
 •Describe how different types of galaxies tend to be grouped in space.
 •Describe how Earth rotates and moves through space.
 •Describe how gravitational contraction eventually triggers nuclear fusion in a star-forming cloud.
 •Describe how inflation provides explanations for the universe, flatness, and structure of the universe.
 •Describe how mass transfer in a close binary system can alter the life histories of its stars.
 •Describe how our galaxy recycles from dying stars into new stars.
 •Describe how solar activity affects humans.
 •Describe how solar activity varies with time.
 •Describe how the age of the universe is related to Hubble's constant.
 •Describe how the average distances between galaxies are changing with time.
 •Describe how the curvature of spacetime near an object is related to its mass divided by its radius.
 •Describe how the early universe produced the particles of matter of which make up everything we now observe.
 •Describe how the energy released by fusion travels to the Sun's surface.
 •Describe how the major events leading from the Big Bang to the appearance of humans on Earth are related in time.
 •Describe how the time required for star formation depends on a star's mass.
 •Describe the basic levels of structure in the Universe and arrange them in order of increasing size.
 •Describe the chain of methods used to determine the distances to galaxies.
 •Describe the evidence for a supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy.
 •Describe the evidence for dark matter.
 •Describe the evidence indicating that some X-ray binary systems contain black holes.
 •Describe the evidence indicating that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
 •Describe the evidence supporting the existence of supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies.
 •Describe the evidence that supports our understanding of the Sun's interior.
 •Describe the evidence that supports the theory of general relativity.
 •Describe the four fundamental forces of nature.
 •Describe the major epochs of the early universe.
 •Describe the major patterns we find among the objects orbiting the Sun. Distinguish between reflecting and refracting telescopes.
 •Describe the observations of gamma-ray bursts and their possible formation mechanisms.
 •Describe the origin of cosmic microwave background.
 •Describe the physical characteristics of normal and barred spiral galaxies, lenticular galaxies, elliptical galaxies and irregular galaxies.
 •Describe the processes of pair production and pair annihilation.
 •Describe the two kinds of balance that regulate the Sun's fusion rate.
 •Describe three methods for measuring the amount of matter in a cluster of galaxies.
 •Describe what can happen on the surface of a neutron star that is accreting matter from a companion star.
 •Describe what can happen to a white dwarf that is accreting matter from a companion star.
 •Describe what ultimately happens to a star with an iron core.
 •Determine the lookback time to a galaxy from its distance in light years and estimate its maximum age at the time it emitted the light we are now observing.
 •Determine the relative distances of galaxies using a standard candle technique.
 •Discuss how the initial conditions in protogalactic clouds or later collisions with other galaxies may explain observed differences between galaxies.
 •Distinguish between a white dwarf supernova and a massive star supernova.
 •Distinguish between an H-R diagram showing how a single star changes with time and an H-R diagram depicting stars of different life stages in a single star cluster.
 •Distinguish between flat, spherical, and saddle-shaped geometries for space.
 •Distinguish between recollapsing, coasting, critical, and accelerating models for the expansion of the universe.
 •Distinguish between scientific theories, hypotheses, and observations.
 •Distinguish between stars belonging to the disk population of our galaxy from those belonging to the spheroidal population.
 •Estimate the lifetime of a main-sequence star from its mass and luminosity.
 •Estimate the mass of a main sequence star from its location in an H-R diagram.
 •Explain how electron degeneracy pressure is related to the behavior of electrons in atoms.
 •Explain how H-R diagrams of star clusters support our models of how stars evolve.
 •Explain how one can measure the surface temperature of a star from observations of its spectrum.
 •Explain how the composition of an astronomical object can be determined from its spectrum.
 •Explain how the consequences of special relativity follow from the constancy of the speed of light.
 •Explain how the shape and color of our galaxy arise from the orbital motions and ages of its stars.
 •Explain how the speed of an object can be determined from shifts in the wavelengths of its spectral lines.
 •Explain Hubble's law in terms of the expansion of the Universe.
 •Explain the advantages of placing telescopes in space.
 •Explain the difference between luminosity and apparent brightness.
 •Explain why a star's luminosity increases with time if it is powered by shell fusion around an inert, contracting core.
 •Explain why contracting gas clouds with masses less than 0.08 solar masses or greater than a few hundred solar masses fail to achieve energy balance through steady nuclear fusion.
 •Explain why Earth's orbital motions should cause small shifts in the apparent positions of nearby stars.
 •Explain why fusion does not release energy in a star with a core composed of iron.
 •Explain why fusion in stars of greater mass can produce elements with more protons in their nuclei.
 •Explain why larger telescopes gather more light.
 •Explain why multiwavelength observations are useful for studying our Galaxy.
 •Explain why neither chemical nor gravitational potential energy can account for the Sun's power output today.
 •Explain why scientists think the early universe was much hotter and denser than it is now.
 •Explain why stars form most easily in interstellar gas clouds that are both cold and dense.
 •Explain why stellar mass measurements are particularly accurate in eclipsing binary systems.
 •Explain why the discovery of pulsars provided strong evidence for the existence of neutron stars.
 •Explain why the night sky is dark.
 •Explain why the observed features of spiral arms indicate that they are waves of star formation propagating through the galaxy's disk.
 •Explain why the speed of a light wave equals the product of frequency and wavelength.
 •Explain why we cannot observe the entire universe.
 •Explain why we see objects at great distances as they were in the distant past.
 •Explain why weakly interacting massive particles are the considered the most likely candidate for dark matter.
 •Express approximate relationships between the sizes and distances of astronomical objects using scale models.
 •Identify accretion of gas onto a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy as the primary energy source of a quasar.
 •Identify electron degeneracy pressure as the main form of pressure balancing gravity in a white dwarf.
 •Identify examples of conservation of energy on Earth and in astronomical systems.
 •Identify neutron degeneracy pressure as the main form of pressure balancing gravity in a neutron star.
 •Identify nuclear fusion as the source of the Sun's power .
 •Identify on an H-R diagram the regions corresponding to the main sequence, giants, supergiants, and white dwarfs.
 •Identify the conditions under which one would expect to observe a continuous spectrum, an emission-line spectrum, or an absorption-line spectrum.
 •Identify the cosmic microwave background as a major piece of evidence in favor of the Big Bang theory.
 •Identify the disk, bulge, halo, and galactic neighbors of the Milky Way.
 •Identify the forms of light that pass through Earth's atmosphere and those that do not.
 •Identify the information needed to compute the mass of an orbiting system using Newton's version of Kepler's third law.
 •Identify the information needed to determine the luminosity of a star.
 •Identify the major consequences of quantum mechanics for astronomy.
 •Identify the most important astronomical standard candles for measuring large distances.
 •Identify the reaction processes and output products of nuclear fusion of hydrogen in the Sun.
 •Identify uniformity, flatness, and structure as three features of the universe not explained by the original Big Bang theory.
 •Infer the distribution of mass with radius within an astronomical system from the orbital speed.
 •Interpret everyday visual experiences in terms of emission, absorption, transmission, and reflection/scattering of light.
 •Interpret the differences between disk and halo stars in terms of a basic model for galaxy formation.
 •Predict how observed characteristics of an object change as its speed approaches the speed of light.
 •Predict how the radius of a black hole's event horizon will change if its mass increases.
 •Predict how the Sun's core would respond to a change in temperature.
 •Read and interpret graphs and data.
 •Recall the basic structure of atoms and molecules.
 •Recognize that larger telescopes are capable of making more detailed images.
 •Recognize that the maximum mass of a white dwarf is 1.4 solar masses.
 •Recognize that the order of events seen by an observer depend on the observer's frame of reference.
 •Relate the distance to a galaxy to its recession velocity or redshift using Hubble's law.
 •Relate the temperature of an object to the intensity and the peak of its thermal radiation spectrum.
 •Summarize the major cosmic events that prepared the way for life on Earth.

Methods of Instruction and Course Format
The delivery of material for this course may be accomplished by but is not limited to the following methodologies:
 •  Collaboration
 •Current events
 •Field trips

Both in-class and out-of -class activities that may be used to evaluate student learning and abilities may unitize but are not limited to the following:
 •  Attendance
 •Book and article reviews reviews
 •Class preparedness and participation
 •Collaborative learning projects
 •Internet-based assignments
 •Library assignments
 •Research papers
 •Scientific observations
 •Student-teacher conferences
 •Written assignments

Course Grade
Final grades are determined from:
Exams 40% to 50%
Homework/Quizzes 20% to 25%
Other 0% to 15%
Final Exam 20% to 30%
Final letter grades are determined from overall averages according to the following scheme:
A if 90% ≤ final average
B if 80% ≤ final average < 90%
C if 70% ≤ final average < 80%
D if 60% ≤ final average < 70%
F if final average < 60%

Students should keep the following points in mind during the semester.
The contents of this syllabus may change to improve the class or clarify various policies. Such changes shall be announced in class.
Specific dates for assignments and assessments will be announced in class. It is the student's responsibility to obtain such information in the event of an absence.
The student may require access to a reliable high speed internet connection for completion of certain assignments.