The Interstellar Medium (ISM) is the gas and dust between the stars. Stars form from it, their winds and supernova enrich and replenish it. Temperatures in the ISM range from the very hot, >106K, to the very cold, <10K. Observed densities span an even wider dynamic range, from <10-3 to >106 particles per cubic centimeter. Even the highest densities, however, are more rarefied than the best vacuums currently attainable on Earth and thus the ISM allows us to explore physical processes in unique environments. This course will cover observations and theories of a wide range of ISM environments from pervasive diffuse, ionized gas to dense, star forming cores in molecular clouds.
Several new books have appeared on this topic in recent years and I will use material from
There will be short problems sets most weeks. The final exam will be oral, both because I think this is the best way to figure out how well a student understands the material and also to prepare you for the qualifying exam. Each student will write a short course paper on a specific ISM-related topic of their choosing and present it in a pecha-kucha format (20 slides, each 20 seconds long). The breakdown of the grading is as follows: problem sets (40%, one can be skipped without penalty), course paper and presentation (20%), and final (40%).
Ast622 The Interstellar Medium (Jonathan Williams, IfA)