NFYK18003U Fundaments of High-Energy Astrophysics and Particle Astrophysics

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Physics


This course will cover fundamental concepts in high-energy and particle astrophysics. Students interested in acquiring a general background on the engines powering astrophysical sources, their microphysics, as well as the interpretation of related astronomical observations are encouraged to attend the course. Students at the MSc or PhD level will also benefit from taking this course, if they intend to pursue research in astrophysics and particle astrophysics.

We will cover the basic processes trough which particles, including neutrinos, photons, gravitational waves and cosmic rays are produced in astrophysical sources and how such particles power the sources themselves. We will explore the formation and evolution of a wide range of astrophysical transients and build up a useful theoretical toolkit to enable the further development of the attending students as experienced researchers in related fields.

Key subjects in the course are:

• Order of magnitude estimations in astrophysics and particle astrophysics.

• Particle physics in compact objects (white dwarfs, supernovae, neutron stars, compact binary mergers).

• Particle acceleration and energetics in astrophysical environments.

• Photons, neutrinos, gravitational waves and cosmic rays as probes of high-energy astrophysical sources. 

Learning Outcome


After attending this course, the students are expected to be able to:

• Carry out estimations of the main mechanisms leading to particle acceleration and particle production in astrophysical sources.

• Pinpoint the processes powering astrophysical sources and their observables.

• Understand fundamental research papers in the field.



After attending this course, students are expected to be able to:

• Explain the processes powered by particles at work in astrophysical sources and the energetic of the source.

• Pinpoint the amount of energy carried out by particles in astrophysical sources and their detection imprints.

• Explain particle acceleration mechanisms in astrophysical sources and the main features characterizing the spectral energy distribution of neutrinos, photons, and cosmic rays.


This course will provide students with the tools to work in a variety of topics in high-energy astrophysics, cosmology, particle astrophysics, and interpret astronomical observations.

See Absalon for final course material.

Lecture notes will be provided.

The students are strongly encouraged to consult the following books:

- Probes of Multimessenger Astrophysics, Spurio, Springer. 

- Cosmic Rays and Particle Physics, Gaisser, Engel, Rasconi, Cambridge University Press.

- High Energy Astrophysics, Longair, Cambridge University Press.

- Theoretical Astrophysics, Padmanabhan, Cambridge University Press.

Students will benefit from being familiar with basic notions in Calculus, Thermodynamics, Special Relativity, and Statistical Physics. General knowledge in Particle Physics and General Relativity is also welcome but not mandatory.
Students interested in this course that would like to revise the subjects above before the course begins are encouraged to contact the course responsible to discuss useful readings.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
One assignment per week or student presentations are foreseen. Although the assignments are non-mandatory, they should be seen as a crucial component of the learning experience for this course. 1/3 of the final grade will be based on the assignments. Some of the assignments will be analytical; some other assignments will involve computer exercises that could be done using Matlab, Python, or any other language that the students find useful.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 126
  • Exercises
  • 40
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 25 min.
Continuous assessment
Type of assessment details
The final grade will be based on two components:
(i) Weekly homework assignments (1/3 of the final grade).
(ii) Oral exam (2/3 of the final grade).
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
several internal examiners

Same as normal exam for the oral examination. 1/3 of the grade will be based on the weekly assignments that are to be handed in during the course. The assignments cannot be re-submitted. This means that it will only be possible to achieve up to 2/3 of the maximum grade without following the course again, if the assignments were not submitted.

Criteria for exam assesment

see learning outcome