Weatherall Technical Applications

James C. Weatherall
  • classical electrodynamics, magnetic charge, Proca's equation and photon mass, vacuum polarization effects
  • discrete charge distributions and delta-functions, surface boundary conditions, Poisson and Laplace equations
  • method of images, variational methods, solving boundary value problems with Green's functions
  • solving boundary value problems with series expansions
  • multipole expansions, dielectric media
  • magnetostatics, magnets
  • magnetic diffusion, Maxwell's equations, retarded solutions for fields, Poynting's theorem, Dirac monopoles
  • electromagnetic waves, dispersion, signal propagation
  • propagation of waves in dispersive media, whistler waves
  • modes in rectangular waveguides, resonant cavities, Schumann resonances
  • antennas, multipole fields
  • scattering by spheres, diffraction in apertures
  • special theory of relativity, relativistic covariance, Thomas precession, relativistic dynamics
  • collision with charged particles
  • Lienard-Wiechert, Larmor formulas, radiation by particles, synchrotron emission
  • bremsstrahlung, radiation in beta-decay
  • radiation reaction, radiation by classical oscillator
Electricity and Magnetism

Graduate course in classical electromagnetic theory and topics in mathematical physics. Two semesters out of Jackson.


  • Basic stellar data - brightness of stars, colors of stars, color magnitude diagrams, distances
  • Gravitational instability - free fall time, hydrostatic equilibrium, virial theorem, Jeans' instability, Kelvin-Helmholtz time
  • Simple stars - Chandrasekhar integral theorems, polytropes
  • Radiative equilibrium - radiation transfer, radiative equilibrium, radiative diffusion, opacities
  • Convection - convective energy transport, Schwarzchild stability criteria, Benard convection theory, mixing length theory
  • Energy generation - proton-proton cycle, CNO cycle, triple alpha reaction
  • Pulsars - electrodynamics of rotating neutron stars
Stellar Astrophysics

Graduate course in the internal structure and evolution of stars. The internal structure and evolution of stars described from formation out of the interstellar medium, to radiative and hydrostatic equilibrium in the main sequence, to white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Emphasis on the physics of hydrostatic equilibrium, radiative and convective transport, and observational tests of stellar models through the color magnitude diagram.


  • Relativistic astrophysics
  • - limits of special relativity, theory of straight lines, connection coefficients, Riemann curvature, geodetic deviation, nearly Newtonian metric, post-Newtonian physics, photon geodesics, radar sounding, photon deflection by sun, Schwarzchild metric, perihelion advance, space-time of black holes
  • Astrophysical fluids
  • - theory of fluid motion, equation of state, hydrostatics, polytropes/stars,nsound waves, shocks, supernova remnants, Sedov expansion, snowplow expansion, fluid instabilities, accretion, x-ray binaries, stellar outflows, coronal expansion, bow shocks,generalized virial theorem, collapse of gas clouds, pulsating stars, collapsing stars, degenerate matter,neutron stars
  • Plasma astrophysics
  • - waves in plasmas, physics of pulsars, Fermi acceleration, cosmic rays
Astrophysics IV

Topics in the physics of astrophysical systems, including applications of hydrodynamics and general relativity. Examples include stars, the interstellar medium, galaxies, and compact objects.


  • Thermal processes - Boltzmann law, photon distribution functions, Rayleigh/Jeans spectrum, Planck spectrum, radiative intensity and flux, radiation pressure, Eddington limit, thermal particle distribution, Fermi distribution function, gas pressure, equations of state, degenerate pressure, Maxwell/Boltzmann distribution, atomic states, two level atom, ion states, Saha equation
    Applications: accretion flows - white dwarfs - Chandrasekhar limit
  • Electromagnetic processes - radiation physics, Larmor radiation formula, emission by collisions: free-free emission, thermal emissivity: Bremsstrahlung, theory of radiation transfer, radiative opacity, emission by scattering: Thompson scattering, emission in magnetic fields, cyclotron emission, polarization, Stokes parameters, propagation in plasmas, dispersion and Faraday rotation
    Applications: radiative equilibrium of stars, radio emission of HII regions, cataclysmic variables, x-ray emission of intergalactic medium, pulsars
  • Relativistic processes - Lorentz transforms, four vectors, Maxwell tensor; covariant physics, Compton scattering, inverse Compton scattering, Kompaneet's equation, Comptonized spectra, relativistic emission in magnetic fields, synchrotron emission, synchrotron ensemble radiation, spectrum, synchrotron polarization, synchrotron self absorption, Compton synchrotron limit
    Applications: Sunayev/Zeldovich effect, accretion disks, supernova remnants, active galactic nuclei
  • Atomic processes - classical spectral line, line broadening mechanisms, quantum transition rates, spectroscopic terms: selection rules, oscillator strengths: equivalent widths
    Applications: Interstellar Medium, non-LTE excitation of nebula lines, ionization equilibrium and Stromgren spheres, interstellar masers
Astrophysics III

Topics in the physics of astrophysical gases, with emphasis on radiative processes. Part of undergraduate option in astrophysics; also required of graduate students without coursework in this area.
General Physics II

Basic concepts in electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics and thermal physics.

Graduate Seminar

Physics Seminar Series


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