Skip to main content

PX416 High Energy Astrophysics

Lecturer: Richard Dendy

Weighting: 7.5 CATS

There is currently considerable research activity in the area of high energy cosmic rays. This module is concerned with the experimental observation of high energy cosmic rays and how they can be understood in terms of the acceleration of particles to very high energies in plasmas.

NOTE: Students are expected to make their own notes on the basis of the lectures. No written notes for this module are available.

To describe current high energy cosmic ray observations, and their explanation in terms of quantitative models.

At the end of this module you should:

  • know the important features of current high energy cosmic ray observations
  • be able to explain how these observations may be understood quantitatively in terms of a model based on the acceleration to very high energies of particles in plasmas
  • be able to read and have some understanding of review articles in current high energy astrophysics literature.


  1. A survey of the methods for observing high energy cosmic rays and gamma rays, and a description of the results of these observations in terms of their type, energy and direction of arrival. A brief outline of the possible sources for these rays.
  2. The properties of plasmas and their interactions with electric and magnetic fields, leading to an understanding of the physical mechanisms for acceleration and propagation of particles in astrophysical plasmas.
  3. To understand the role of these mechanisms in specific astrophysical contexts, notably supernova remnants and galactic nuclei. A comparison of the observations described earlier with the emissions predicted using the plasma models, ending with a discussion of currently unresolved problems.

Commitment: 15 Lectures

Assessment: 1.5 hour examination

Recommended Texts:
MS Longair, High Energy Astrophysics Vol 1, Particles, Photons and their Detection, CUP
JN Bahcall and JP Ostniker, Unsolved Problems in Astrophysics, Princeton UP
BW Carroll and DA Ostlie, An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, Addison-Wesley

Leads from: PX263 Electromagnetic Theory and Optics .