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Astronomy 2 Session 2011-12

Observational Astrophysics
10 Lectures, starting September 2011
Lecture notes:
http://physci.moodle.gla.ac.uk
Dr. Eduard Kontar
Kelvin Building, room 615, ext 2499
Email: Eduard (at) astro.gla.ac.uk
Course aim: Observational Astrophysics 2 forms a bridge
between Levels 1 and 3, consolidating the elementary
material covered in Astronomy 1 and introducing more
advanced concepts in preparation for Honours.
Books to read:
Astronomical Observations, Walker - rather simple
overview of modern instrumentation, biased to the
optical.
Observational Astrophysics, Smith Instrumentation
and descriptions of stars and galaxies etc.
High Energy Astrophysics vol. 1, Longair Useful for
Detectors and A3/4.
Learning objectives:
Section 1 Ideas of Astrophysical Measurements : astrophysical
observations, units, Luminosity, Flux, intensity
Section 2 Detectors and telescopes: optical,
X-ray and gamma-ray detectors, radio telescopes
Section 3 Optical detectors : photographic plates,
photomultipliers, image intensifies, Charged, Coupled Devices
(CCDs)
Section 4 Sensitivity, uncertainties and noise: Poisson
statistics,standard deviation, background, telescope design
Section 5 Observations through the atmosphere: diffraction
grating, spectral resolution, slit spectrometers
Section 6 Spectroscopy: spectra and spectral resolving power
Section 7 Resolution and interferometry: diffraction, Airy
disk, angular resolution
What we can observe?
Particles:
o Cosmic Rays
o Neutrinos
o Neutrons
o Solar particles
Electromagnetic emission
o Optical range/EUV/infra-red
o Radio waves
o X-rays and gamma-rays
In-situ measurements of electric/magnetic fields
Gravitational Waves?
1. Ideas of Astrophysical Measurements
Ideas of Radiant Energy
Astrophysical observations are almost always of light
(i.e. electromagnetic radiation)
Historically, it was mainly the optical (visible) part of the E-M spectrum
that was used:-
nm 700 nm 400
( ) m 10 nm 1
-9
=
( ) m 10 1
10
=
BLUE RED
1.
Nowadays observations are carried out from gamma rays
to radio
Remember
nm 01 . 0
cm 10

hc
h E = =
= c
Frequency (Hz)
Speed of light
-1 8
ms 10 998 . 2 =
Energy (J or eV)
( ) J 10 602 . 1 eV 1
-19
=
Plancks constant
Js 10 626 . 6
34
=
(1.1)
(1.2)
= energy radiated per unit time by a source in the
frequency interval centred on
In A1 you met the concept of
Luminosity = energy radiated per unit time by a source
Unit = Watts (Joules per second)
In general, luminosity is dependent on wavelength or frequency.
i.e. astrophysical objects generally dont radiate the same amount
of energy at all frequencies.
Hence we write
and
) ( L L =
Sometimes referred to as
Monochromatic luminosity
) (
0
L

0

(1.3)
Strictly speaking we should write the luminosity as the integral
but provided is small we can approximate by
Sometimes we consider instead luminosity as a function of
wavelength, i.e.
Relating and is rather trivial.
( See A2 Theoretical Astrophysics notes! )
Bolometric Luminosity = energy per unit time radiated at
all frequencies (wavelengths)

+




2
1
0
2
1
0
) ( d L
) (
0
L
) ( L L =
) ( L ) ( L
d L d L L


= =
0 0
bol
) ( ) (
Note: Luminosity is
an intrinsic property
of a source
(1.4)
Usually we assume that astrophysical sources radiate isotropically (i.e.
uniformly in all directions). This allows us to relate their luminosity to
their apparent brightness which decreases with distance, according to
the inverse-square law.
Apparent brightness falls off with the square of the distance, because
surface area of a sphere increases with the square of the radius
In A1 you also met the concept of
Radiant Flux = energy per unit time crossing a unit area
perpendicular to the direction of light
propagation
Units = Watts per square metre
From inverse-square law,
for a source at distance
2
4 D
L
F

=
D
Flux
1 m
2
(1.5)
As with luminosity, in general we need to work with a measure
of flux which is frequency dependent. We thus define
Flux Density = energy per unit time, per unit frequency,
crossing a unit area perpendicular to the
direction of light propagation
Astronomers use a special unit for flux density
Jy is a common unit of measurement in radio, microwave and infra-red
astronomy. It is less common in optical astronomy, although it has become
more widely used in recent years.
(Jy) Jansky 1 Hz m W 10
-1 -2 26
=

Usually denoted by or
) ( F

S
(1.6)
Suppose we observe in frequency interval
Define bandwidth (also known as bandpass, or passband)
And the mean frequency
If is small or is either flat,
or varies linearly with frequency, then
Integrated Flux

=
2
1


d S F
1 2
=
( )
2 1
2
1
+ =

= S F
Integrated flux = flux density x bandwidth
2 1

(1.7)
(1.8)
(1.9)
Example
The radio source Cygnus A has a flux density of 4500 Jy. How much energy
is incident on a radio telescope, of diameter 25m, which observes Cygnus A
for 5 minutes over a bandwidth of 5 MHz?
Solid Angle
Stars can be regarded as point sources
Angular diameter of the Sun =
Angular diameter of Betelgeuse =
o
533 . 0
o
000014 . 0
(barely) resolvable
with HST
We use solid angle as measure of the fraction of the sky covered (or
subtended) by an extended source.
Unit of solid angle
= steradian (sr)
Consider a source of
projected area at
distance
Whole sky = sr
D
Area A
4
D
A
Solid angle
2
D
A
=
(1.10)
For a spherical source, of radius
Projected area,
Thus
But
So
D
Area A
R
R
2
R A =
2
|

\
|
=
D
R

D
R 2
=
Angular diameter of
source, in radians
2
2
|

\
|
=

(1.11)
(1.12)
(using ) tan
Need to be careful about units
In Eq. (1.12) angular diameter must be in radians, but is often measured in
degrees (or arcminutes / arcseconds)
Examples
Calculate solid angle subtended by the Sun
ang. diam. =
Calculate solid angle subtended by globular cluster NGC 6093
ang. diam. = 8.9 arcmin
o
533 . 0
But many other objects (e.g. galaxies, nebulae) are extended sources.
Specific Intensity
An extended source (e.g. a galaxy) may deliver the same flux density as a
point source (e.g. a star) but spread over a small area of the sky.
Also, as can be seen clearly for
NGC 6093, an extended source
will not be equally bright across
its entire projected area.
We need to introduce a new
quantity to describe this variation
in brightness. It is usually
referred to as specific intensity
or (particularly in the context of
galaxies) as surface brightness
( ) =

d d dA I L

n r
bol
)
,
(1.13)
(1.14)
Relating Specific Intensity and Flux Density
Consider an extended source of projected area
Flux density from = energy received per unit time, per unit frequency
S
A
D
Source, of
area
S
A
1m
2
at
the Earth
1
dA
2
dA
1
d
2
d
S
A
( ) ( ) K + + =
2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1
, , , , d dA I d dA I

r r
(1.15)
For a distant source we can assume that
Thus
But, if is measured in metres, then
So we can write
= = = d d d K
2 1
( ) ( ) | | + + = d dA I dA I S K
2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
, , , ,

r r

(
(

=

d dA I
S
A

(1.16)
D
2
1
D
d =
(1.17)

=
(
(

=
S S
A A
D
dA
I
D
dA I S
2 2
1

(1.18)
Solid angle of area element on
the source as seen from the Earth
dA
Hence
Flux density = integral of specific intensity over the
solid angle of an extended source
If is constant over the projected area of the source, then

=
S
S
d I S

(1.19)

I
S
I S =

(1.20)
from Eq. (1.5)
2
D S

2
D
S
from Eq. (1.10)
Specific intensity is
independent of distance
( constant along rays )
Example
For a blackbody of temperature,
Blackbody radiation is isotropic (i.e. specific intensity doesnt depend on
direction)
At a given frequency, depends only on
We can use the measured to define a temperature
Recall effective temperature from A1Y Stellar course
T
( ) | |
1 - 1 - 2 -
2
3
sr Hz Wm
1 exp
2

=
kT
h
c
hv
I

(1.21)
T

I
Wiens Law
3
max
10 9 . 2

= T
in m
in K
T v
10
max
10 6 =
in K
in Hz
(1.22)
(1.23)
h log
l
o
g

I

I
max
log h
We can make a similar definition, common in radio astronomy:
Brightness temperature
<< kT h
( )
kT
h
kT
h
1 exp
Rayleigh Jeans
approximation
At typical radio frequencies and temperatures
Hence
( ) | |
2
2
2
3
2
1 exp
2
c
kT
c
hv
I
kT
h

=
(1.24)
At typical radio frequencies and temperatures
Hence
We define
Note that we can always define a brightness temperature, but it will only
correspond to the actual temperature if the source is approximately a black
body and
We can make a similar definition, common in radio astronomy:
Brightness temperature
<< kT h
( )
kT
h
kT
h
1 exp
Rayleigh Jeans
approximation
( ) | |
2
2
2
3
2
1 exp
2
c
kT
c
hv
I
kT
h

=
(1.24)
k
I c
T
b
2
2
2

=
(1.25)
Measured intensity
Brightness temperature
kT h <<
The quasar 3C123 has an angular diameter of 20 arcsec, and emits
a flux density of 49 Jy at a frequency of 1.4 GHz.
Calculate the brightness temperature of the quasar.
Example
The Magnitude System
While many modern astrophysical observations are made in terms of flux
density, optical astronomy has mainly retained the magnitude system,
which is based on a logarithmic scale (See A1 handout).
Bolometric apparent magnitude
Need to calibrate via standard stars. e.g. Vega defined to have
bolometric apparent magnitude zero
const. F log 5 . 2
10 bol
+ = m
Vega
10 bol
F
F
log 5 . 2 = m
Radiant flux (over all frequencies)
(1.26)
V B V
E A

1 . 3
V-band extinction
Colour
excess
V B B
E A

1 . 4
B-band extinction
Colour
excess
Example
The star Merope in the Pleiades is observed to have apparent
magnitudes B = 4.40 and V = 4.26
The V band extinction affecting this observation is estimated to be
0.2 magnitudes.
Estimate the true colour index of Merope