Astrophysics lab

Physics, Second Cycle
1. in 2. year
Hours per week – 2. semester:

Enrollment into the program. It is recommended that the student is familiar with the material which is part of the courses Astronomy I and Observational astrophysics within the Bologna I studies of Physics.
Completed written assignements are a prerequisite for the oral defense.

Content (Syllabus outline)

The course is introduced by overview lectures to introduce the individual laboratory exercises and clarify the physics background of individual observational and computational projects which form the core of the course.

Themes of exercises will be adapted with regard to availability of experimental equipment. Basic set of tasks which can be done with observational equipment at the Astronomical observatory AGO and with the local computer cluster of the astronomy group:
• absorption and scattering in the Earth atmosphere,
• interstellar absorption,
• measurement of stellar radial velocity,
• physical description of spectra of normal stars,
• rapidly rotating stars,
• spectroscopy of binary stars,
• spectroscopy of emission nebulae,
• orbits of space probes,
• geostationary satellites,
• special cases of satellite orbits,
• H-R diagram with a reduced proper motion,
• colour-magnitude and colour-colour diagrams of star clusters,
• galactic dynamics,
• redshift.


• H. Bradt: Astronomy Methods, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004,
• P. Lena, et al.: Observational Astrophysics, Springer-Verlag, 3rd edition, 2012,
• D. F. Gray: The Observation and Analysis of stellar atmospheres, Cambridge Univ. Press, 3rd edition, 2008
• Sverre J. Aarseth: Gravitational N-Body Simulations, Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Objectives and competences


Student gets practical experience with astronomical observations, also with automated ones. He/she also gets familiar with numerical modelling.


Interpretation of astronomical observations obtained by the student and the ones downloaded from the virtual observatory (VO), using numerical simulations of astrophysical phenomena.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:
Understanding of individual observational methods and their recent development. Critical understanding of reliability of results, problem of uniqueness of solutions. Knowledge of standard procedures to reduce (mostly) spectroscopic data.

Acquired knowledge allows to obtain personal experience with astronomical observations and related numerical simulations.

Critical evaluation of experimental results with theoretical models. Confrontation of astrophysical knowledge with personal experience.

Transferable skills:
The ability to conduct research end-to-end and to present a critical assessment of the results which were obtained.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures, individual assignements, consultations


Written reports on observational and computational assignements
Oral exam
grading: 5 (fail), 6-10 (pass) (according to the Statute of UL)

Lecturer's references
  1. KOS, Janez, ZWITTER, Tomaž, et al. Pseudo-three-dimensional maps of the diffuse interstellar band at 862 nm. Science, ISSN 1095-9203, 15. avgust 2014, vol. 345, no. 6198, str. 791-795., [COBISS-SI-ID 473217], [JCR, SNIP, Scopus do 1. 10. 2014: št. citatov (TC): 0, čistih citatov (CI): 0, normirano št. čistih citatov (NC): 0]
  2. ŽERJAL, Maruška, ZWITTER, Tomaž, MATIJEVIČ, Gal, et al. Chromospherically active stars in the RAdial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) Survey : I. The catalog. The Astrophysical journal, ISSN 0004-637X, 2013, vol. 776, issue 2, article id. 127, str. 1-12. [COBISS-SI-ID 418945],
  3. KOS, Janez, ZWITTER, Tomaž, et al. Diffuse interstellar band at 8620 Å in RAVE : a new method for detecting the diffuse interstellar band in spectra of cool stars. The Astrophysical journal, ISSN 0004-637X, 2013, vol. 778, issue 2, article id. 86, str. 1-11. [COBISS-SI-ID 421249]
  4. ZWITTER, Tomaž, MATIJEVIČ, Gal, et al. Distance determination for RAVE stars using stellar models : II. most likely values assuming a standard stellar evolution scenario. Astronomy & astrophysics, ISSN 0004-6361, 2010, let. 522, št. A54, str. 1-15. [COBISS-SI-ID 363905]
  5. ZWITTER, Tomaž, RE FIORENTIN, Paola, MATIJEVIČ, Gal, VIDRIH, Simon, et al. The radial velocity experiment (RAVE): second data release. The Astronomical journal, ISSN 0004-6256, 2008, let. 136, št. 1, str. 421-451. [COBISS-SI-ID 309377]