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Lecture Notes

The material of this course will be drawn from the lecture notes in this not-quite-a-book. It is essentially complete now, but the index still needs work—if you can't find something, I apologise... Relevant sections will be referred to in the slides—please read them!


Lecture slides in pptx and pdf format.

Introduction (pptx) (pdf)
What is particle astrophysics?
Definition of the topic; outline of the course; brief summary of aspects of particle astrophysics that will not be covered in detail (early-universe cosmology, dark energy, dark matter, solar and supernova neutrinos).
Notes sections 1.2, 1.3, 1.5.1, 1.5.2, 1.6
Cosmic rays (pptx) (pdf)
Detection and properties of cosmic rays
Discovery of cosmic rays; detection techniques for primary cosmic rays (space-based and balloon-borne experiments); detection techniques for air shower detection (ground arrays). Measurement of energy or momentum, direction, particle identification. Properties: energy spectrum, elemental and isotopic composition, anisotropies.
Notes section 2.2
Radio emission (pptx) (pdf)
Non-thermal radio emission and relativistic electrons
Radio emission mechanisms; bremsstrahlung; synchrotron radiation.
Notes section 2.3
Emission of high energy photons (pptx) (pdf)
X-ray and γ-ray emission and detection
X-ray and γ-ray emission mechanisms: inverse Compton scattering and π0 decay. X-ray detection by grazing-incidence optics and summary of sources. Hard X-ray/soft γ-ray detection by coded mask and introduction to γ-ray bursts. Intermediate-energy γ-ray detection by pair-conversion spectrometers and summary of sources. High-energy γ-ray detection by imaging air Cherenkov telescopes.
Notes section 2.4
High energy neutrinos (pptx) (pdf)
High-energy neutrino emission and detection
High-energy neutrino emission by π± decay; detection by large water Cherenkov detectors; current status of observations.
Notes section 2.5
Acceleration mechanisms (pptx) (pdf)
Accelerating cosmic rays in astrophysical sources
Fermi second-order mechanism; shocks and shock jump conditions; diffusive shock acceleration; shock drift acceleration; acceleration in relativistic shocks; magnetic reconnection; propagation through the Galaxy.
Notes chapter 3
Astrophysical sources (pptx) (pdf)
Potential sources of high-energy cosmic rays
The solar system (not a source of high-energy CRs, but a useful testbed because it can be explored directly by spacecraft); supernova remnants; pulsar wind nebulae; gamma-ray bursts; active galactic nuclei.
Notes chapter 4


The main textbook for this course is Malcolm Longair, High Energy Astrophysics 3rd edition, Cambridge University Press (2011). There are copies in the IC. Longair is a radio astronomer, and the emphasis in this text is different from that in the course, so don't be too put off by the level of the mathematics. This text does have the advantage of being in SI units—many astronomy tests at this level are in cgs, which is very confusing when you are dealing with electromagnetism (it's not just powers of 10!).