Single-Course English 5 ECTS

Observational X-ray Astrophysics

Overall Course Objectives

To give an introduction to X-ray astrophysics, its methods, its objects, and the involved physical processes.

Learning Objectives

  • describe the sky as seen with an X-ray instrument and compare the wide range of astrophysical sources visible at high energies
  • describe and apply selected methods of imaging; coded masks, focusing X-ray optics, as well as the basic functioning of X-ray detectors
  • distinguish the astrophysical processes that produce high energy emission, and relate them to the variety of X-ray sources
  • explain the origin of the diffuse X-ray background
  • derive and compare the fundamental properties of compact objects (white dwarves, neutron stars and black holes) and their creation as the last stages of stellar evolution
  • derive and compare the properties of the X-ray binaries and the basic physics involved in accretion mechanisms
  • describe and analyse the high energy phenomena that occur in the center of active galaxies
  • explain and exploit X-ray observations of clusters of galaxies.
  • utilize theory to quantify astrophysical properties, such as luminosity, flux, temperature, mass, distance, etc.
  • present, summarize and interpret relevant scientific articles

Course Content

This course deals with some of the most energetic objects and phenomena in the Universe. High-energy astrophysics is a very active area of modern astronomy, and most of what we know about its objects comes from observational studies. Due to the atmospheric absorption of high-energy photons, the observations are performed with space instruments.
The physical processes, thermal or non-thermal that produce these energetic photons are explained. The course also touches upon the basic techniques, instrumentation, observational methods, and analysis tools employed to exploit X-ray photons.

The course gives further descriptions of the observational properties of different astrophysical sources of X-rays through their temporal and spectral variations. Examples are supernova remnants, accretion mechanisms around white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes in X-ray binaries, active galaxies harbouring a supermassive black hole in their centre, and gigantic clusters of galaxies.

Recommended prerequisites


Teaching Method

Lectures and exercises.


See course in the course database.





13 weeks




DTU Lyngby Campus

Course code 30790
Course type Candidate
Semester start Week 35
Semester end Week 48
Days Fri 13-17

7.500,00 DKK