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The IMPRS provides a course program consisting of an Introductory Course and a set of Advanced Courses. The latter consists of nine one-week morning lectures on various topics taught throughout the year. It is mandatory to participate in at least 7 of these lectures within the three year PhD period.

For students without an astrophysics background, participation in the IMPRS Introductory Course is strongly recommended. The IMPRS Introductory Course is combined with the LMU-M.Sc. course. Regardless on whether a student takes part in the lectures it is mandatory for all IMPRS students to either write an exam at the end of the Introductory Course (February/March)

The exam mostly provides an evaluation of the student's general astronomy background and should indicate where further learning is desirable. Students will be graded in categories A (very good), B (good), C (acceptable), D (sufficient), F (failed). Students with grade F can repeat the exam if they fail the first time.

The IMPRS course schedule 2017/18

Various Advanced Courses will be scheduled throughout the year. Details on their schedule will be announced on this website.

In addition to the courses taught at the IMPRS, most IMPRS lecturers teach courses at the LMU or TUM in the frame of the Universities' regular course program. For a comprehensive list see the websites of LMU and TUM.


Lecture notes

Here please find the lecture notes.


IMPRS Courses 2017/18

Astrophysics on Black Holes

Dr. Andrea Merloni (MPE)
30. Jan. – 03. Feb. 2017, 10:00 - 13:30 at MPE

Cosmic Microwave Background

Prof. Eiichiro Komatsu (MPA)
03. – 07. April 2017, 10:00 - 13:30 at MPE

Observational and Experimental X-ray astronomy

Prof. Paul Nandra (MPE)
03. – 07. July 2017, 10:00 - 13:30 at MPE

High Energy Processes and Objects

Prof. Marat Gilfanov (MPA)
16. – 20. October 2017, 10:00 - 13:30 at MPE

Astrochemistry and Star/Planet Formation

Prof. Paola Caselli (MPE)
20. – 24. November 2017, 10:00 - 13:30 at MPE

Stellar Evolution

Prof. Dr. Achim Weiss (MPA)
15. - 20. January 2018, 10:00 - 13:30 at MPE

Softskill/Programming Courses 2017/18


M. August and A. Parra (TUM)
06. - 16. March 2017, 09:30 - 13:30 at MPE

The IMPRS course contents

Introductory Course

Approximately 30 lectures of 2 hours each which provide a broad brush overview of astrophysics with emphasis on basics, key physics, phenomenology and order of magnitude estimates. The contents is an abridged version of the program of the Advanced Courses.

Outline of the IMPRS Introductory Course:

  • Introduction and overview (telescopes, instruments, slide show...)
  • Matter and radiation
  • Stars: global properties and spectra
  • Stellar structure, evolution and final stages
  • Interstellar medium, star formation and exo-planets
  • Galaxies: phenomenology
  • Stellar dynamics
  • Stellar populations, chemical evolution and star formation
  • Dark Matter, Gravitational lensing
  • Groups and clusters of galaxies
  • Active galactic nuclei and massive black holes
  • Cosmological standard model
  • Formation of structure in the universe
  • Galaxy formation and evolution

Every IMPRS student is supposed to pass an exam at the end of the course (usually in early February). The exam mostly provides an evaluation of the student's general astronomy background and should indicate where further learning is desirable. Students will be graded in categories A (very good), B (good), C (acceptable),D (sufficient), F (failed). Students with grade F can repeat the exam if they fail the first time.

Advanced Courses

  • Advanced Course 1-3:
    Three one-week courses, each of 5 times 3 ½ hours a day, on Observational Astrophysics from Radio to Gamma-rays, Physics of Accretion Discs and accretion on Black Holes
  • Advanced Course 4-6:
    Three one-week courses, each of 5 times 3 ½ hours a day, on Galaxy and Galaxies & Interstellar Matter and Star Formation & Stellar Atmospheres
  • Advanced Course 7-9:
    Three one-week courses, each of 5 times 3 ½ hours a day, on Cosmology & Large Scale Structure & Stellar Structure and evolution & Active Galactic Nuclei

In more detail, the course contents are as follows:

Advanced Course 1: Observational Astrophysics: Optical to Radio Wavelength

  • Radiation: Introduction of key terms, effects of the Earth's atmosphere, basic methods to detect radiation, fundamental limits of detection, a breeze through modern detectors
  • Telescopes: Geometric and wave optics, interference and diffraction, radio antennae, optical/IR telescopes
  • Spectroscopy and more: Heterodyne spectroscopy: Correlators and all, gratings, Fabry-Perots, Fourier Transform spectroscopy, energy resolving detectors, making a real measurement
  • High Resolution Imaging: Beating the atmosphere: adaptive optics, radio interferometry, optical/IR interferometry

Advanced Course 2: Observational Astrophysics: High Energy Astrophysics

  • Astrophysical messengers: Observational methods across the different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, specifics at high energies of UV, X-rays and gamma rays; thermal emission, non-thermal radiation processes, nuclear radiation, astroparticle and cosmic ray physics, neutrinos
  • High-energy astronomical instrumentation: Interactions of photons with matter; detectors for high energy deposits; grazing-incidence mirrors, photon event collectors, multiple-interaction detection and tracking devices, electromagnetic shower detection, cosmic-ray and neutrino instrumentation
  • Astrophysics at high energies: 
Stellar evolution and typical radiation signatures, late stellar phases, massive star interiors and outputs, stellar explosions / supernovae, supernova remnants and particle outflows, compact remnant stars with their interactions in binary systems, X and gamma-ray bursts, positron annihilation, cosmic rays, neutrinos from nuclear processes and particle jets, links to evolution of stellar groups and galaxies
  • Tools and methods: Usage of literature databases, catalogues and instrument data, and tools for high energy astrophysics studies

Advanced Course 3: Accretion, Jets and Gamma-Ray Bursts

  • Accretion: Virial temperature, radiative cooling, Eddington limits. Accretion disks, angular momentum, viscous spreading, mass-transfer, binaries, disk hydrodynamics, thin disk properties, viscosity, unsteady disks, accretion shocks, stream impact, and radiatively inefficient disks.
  • Jets: General phenomenology, relativistic kinematics, precession, internal shocks, Magnetic outflow model: observational indications, centrifugal acceleration, and regimes in the outflow, efficiencies. Magneto-hydrodynamics, key concepts, and magnetic acceleration model, mathematical derivation, equivalence of the centrifugal, magnetic pressure and Poynting flux views. Launching problem, collimation, internal instabilities, and poloidal collimation.
  • GRB: History, phenomenology, time scale problem, time scale argument, compactness, fireballs, relativistic kinematics, size of photosphere in SR, photospheric radiation, afterglow, internal shocks. Central engines: merger model, msec Magnetars model, collapsar, magnetically powered GRBs, X-ray flashes.

Advanced Course 4: Galaxy and Galaxies

  • N-body equations, virial theorems, applications, distribution functions, Liouville/Vlasov equations, 2-body, relaxation Jeans's moment equations, applications
  • Applications of Jeans's equations to local disk structure, Jean's theorem, integrals of motion, orbits, phase mixing, entropy, model galaxies, Abel/Eddington inversions.
  • Local star motions, secular/statistical parallax, thick/thin disks, galactic rotation, rotation systematics of galaxies, maximal disks, epicyclic orbits, disk thickening, Jeans instability
  • Winding problems for spirals, kinematic and transient spirals, Linblad resonances, Lin-Shu theory for gas and star disks, Toomre stability, swing amplifiers, bars, observed instability, modes
  • Lensing: by point masses, micro-lensing, Machos, strong lensing, masses determinations, H_0 measures, weak lensing, mass mapping, cosmic shear
  • Simulations: Poisson-solvers, integrators, uses and limitations, instabilities, interactions, mergers, star/galaxy clusters, cosmic structure formation, violent relaxation
  • Roche problem, stripping, tidal shocking, harassment, tidal, streams dynamical friction, mass segregation, cD formation, Fokker-Planck equation, soft/hard binaries, star cluster evolution
  • Galaxy luminosity functions: estimation methods, V/Vmax and, evolution Star formation estimators, star formation modes, Population synthesis techniques, degeneracies
  • Models for the Milky Way's formation: dating techniques, hierarchical structure formation, scaling laws, angular momentum, Disk formation, timing arguments for the Local Group mass.

Advanced Course 5: The Interstellar Matter

  • Overview, inventory, structure: 
The components of the ISM, thermal equilibrium, two - and three phase medium models, observational, possibilities, ISM in other galaxies
  • Radiation, Cooling and Heating: 
Radiation processes from infrared to X-rays, photoionization, cooling, line diagnostics, X-ray spectroscopy, the spectral, signature of H II regions, shocks, the hot ISM, the local Bubble, and star bursts
  • Hydrodynamics and Supernova remnant evolution: 
Shock waves, supernova explosions, evolution of a blast wave, R-T-instabilities, diagnostics of supernova remnants, super-bubbles
  • Interstellar clouds: 
Cloud structure and stability, physical conditions of clouds, cloud collapse and fragmentation, molecular line diagnostics, star formation regions
  • Chemical evolution of the ISM and the Galaxy: 
Nucleosynthesis and heavy element enrichment, supernova yields, metallicity age relation, element abundances in other galaxies, chemical evolution models, heavy element abundances in the, intergalactic medium in clusters and absorption line systems

Advanced Course 6: Radiative Transfer and Stellar Atmospheres

  • Quantitative spectroscopy: Astrophysical tools to measure stellar and interstellar properties, the radiation field, specific and mean intensity, radiative flux and pressure, Planck function, Coupling with matter, opacity, emissivity and the equation of radiative transfer, angular moments, Radiative transfer, simple solutions, spectral lines and limb darkening
  • Stellar atmospheres: Basic assumptions, hydrostatic, radiative and local thermodynamic equilibrium, temperature stratification and convection
  • Microscopic theory: Opacities and emissivity, line transitions, Einstein-coefficients, line-broadening and curve of growth, continuous processes and scattering, atomic level population, ionization and excitation in LTE, Saha-and Boltzmann-equation, non-LTE, motivation and introduction
  • Stellar winds: Pressure and radiation driven winds, first applications, the D4000 break in early type galaxies, quantitative spectroscopy, stellar/atmospheric parameters and how to determine them, for the exemplary case of hot stars

Advanced Course 7: The Homogeneous Universe and Large Scale structure

  • Homogeneous Cosmology: Cosmological Principles, geometrical tools, the metric of the homogeneous and isotropic universe, redshift and distance measurements, energy-momentum tensor, covariant derivative
  • Relativistic Cosmology and World Models: Equivalence Principle, Einstein’s field equations, Friedmann-LeMaitre Equations, World Models, Testing Cosmological Models
  • Inflation and Dark Energy: Horizon, requirements for inflation, what drives inflation, time and physical frame of inflation, Planckian units, initial conditions and creation of an inflation, evolution of slow roll inflation, nature of types of inflation, inflation for a square potential. Graceful exit, decay of the inflation field and reheating
  • Evolution of Density Fluctuations and Large-Scale Structure: Growth of density fluctuations, statistical description of the density fluctuation field, evolution of fluctuations in different cosmologies, formation of objects (galaxies and clusters), modelling of the galaxy evolution history
  • Observations of the Large-Scale Structure and Tests of Cosmological Models: Relation of dark matter and object distribution, observations of the large-scale structure, test of cosmological models

Advanced Course 8: Stellar Structure and Evolution

  • Basic types of observations and global stellar quantities: The significance of stars, stellar data, photometry, HDR & CMD, astrometry, masses and radii
  • Stellar structure equations: Virial theorem, Lagrangian description, gravity, hydrostatic equilibrium, the constant density model, local/global energy conservation, time scales, energy transport, Rosseland mean opacity, convection, the mixing length theory, chemical composition, diffusion, simple stellar models: homology, numerical procedures, the complete problem, central conditions, numerical methods, the Henvey method
  • Microphysics – Equation of state, opacities, energy generation: Pressure and energy, EOS – Ideal gas, limiting case, hydrogen ionization in the Sun, electron degeneracy, degenerate gas, pressure ionization, electrostatic corrections, Deby-Hückel approximation, Crystallization, nuclear reactions, Gamow-peak
  • The Standard Solar Model: Hydrogen burning, chain reactions, different burning phases, plasma-neutrino processes, Interlude on star formation, solar neutrino production and the solar neutrino problem, neutrino oscillations, helioseismology, p-modes
  • Evolution of low-mass stars: ZAMS-star properties, brown dwarfs, fully convective VLMS, normal low-mass stars, comparison with observations, the RGB-bump, core helium flash, horizontal branch, past the horizontal branch, Globular clusters, age determinations
  • Evolution of intermediate-mass stars: General features, post-ms core evolution, Schönberg-Chandrasekhar mass, Hertzsprung-gap, evolution of a 5 Mo-star, Helium-burning phase, AGB-phase, thermal instability of helium shell, nucleosynthesis on the AGB
  • Evolution of massive stars: General features, HRD of massive stars, convective cores, overshooting, semi-convection, convection zones evolution, mass loss, mass-loss parameterization, central evolution Advanced Course

Advanced Course 9: Active Galactic Nuclei

  • General introduction: Formation of the first black holes, cosmology for AGN physics, black holes in galaxies, supermassive black holes, the innermost region (a few light seconds), X-ray observations, relativistic iron line reverberation
  • AGN Physics: AGN signatures, AGM types. Syfert 1 – Syfert 2, Unification through orientation, nuclear components – overview, nuclear spectral components, warm ionizing gas – emission and absorption features, the broad line region, the narrow-line region, relativistic jets, cosmic rays
  • Present research results and open issues: reflection on relativistic disks, relativistic lines, X-ray lines, new aspects on Syfert 1 – Syfert 2 unification scheme, new NLS1 aspects, X-rays from the dawn of the universe, future AGN observations, current AGN progress and outlook