Radiative Processes in Astrophysics


Teacher: Zhuo Li (黎卓) (Rm 108, KIAA bldg; zhuo.li@pku.edu.cn; phone 62754891).

Time: 9:00-12:00am, Tuesdays in 2017 fall semester.

Place: Rm 2907, Dept of Astronomy, No. 2 Science Building (理科2号楼92907).

Course description

Study the mechanisms that radiation is produced, and the interactions of radiation with the medium radiation and matter during its propagation. We assume that the students have been well prepared with the four major physics courses, i.e., mechanics, statistical physics, electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics.


Textbook: “Radiative Processes in Astrophysics”, by George Rybicki and Alan Lightman. The course follows closely this book.

References: 天体物理辐射机制》尤峻汉著; The Physics of Astrophysics, Volume I, Radiation”, by Frank Shu.

Schedule (preliminary)

Sep 12

RL 1, radiative transfer



RL 1, radiative transfer



RL 2, radiation field


Oct 3

No class – National Day



RL 3, moving charges



No class – KIAA Transient Workshop



RL 4, relativity; RL 8, plasma



RL 5, Bremsstrahlung


Nov 7

RL 6, synchrotron



RL 6, synchrotron; RL 7, Compton Scattering



RL 7, Compton Scattering



RL 7, Compton Scattering; RL 10.1-3, lines

Read RL 10.1-3 before for discussion

Dec 5

RL 9.5 ; RL 10.4-6, 11.1,lines

Read RL 10.4-5, 11.1 before for discussion


No class – LHAASO meeting

Prepare presentation


Y 7.2-4, recombination; Presentation


Presentation; Q&A

Jan 2





The purpose is for beginners to get real feeling on how the radiative processes discussed in this course are applied to astrophysical researches, especially to observational data. The topic of your presentation should be fixed by the mid of the semester. Discuss with me whether the journal paper you choose is suitable before presentation. The related topics could be: radiation transfer; radiation field; moving charge; relativity; Bremsstrahlung; synchrotron; Compton scattering; line emission/absorption.

Download recommended papers HERE

Questions for Review

Some questions on the concepts discussed in the course. Figure out the answers.

Download: Ch 1 Ch 2+3+4+8 Ch 5 Ch 6 Ch 7


The final grade is roughly based on:
Participation: 20% - Be active in the class.
Homework: 25% - Finish on time.
Presentation: 25% - Collaborate with your group member; present in groups.
Final exam: 30% - Close book.