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Observational High-Energy Astrophysics


Admission requirements

No formal ones. However, some basic knowledge of celestial mechanics, atomic and nuclear physics, stellar evolution would be desirable.


This course provides an overview of observational aspects of high-energy astrophysics. The course will focus on gamma-ray radiation in the energy range between few 10’s keV up to few MeV. The emphasis is to provide students with a complete picture of all relevant items. The outline of the course is as follows:

  • Introduction

  • Why from space ?

  • How to detect high-energy photons? Physical processes and detection techniques

  • Instrument design for high-energy imaging and spectroscopy (e.g. scintillators, solid state detectors, veto systems, coded masks)

  • Radiation and particle background: physical processes, impact on instrument design and treatment during observations

  • Mission design & orbits (The INTEGRAL Mission)

  • Targets of high-energy astronomy, scientific objectives & recent results (e.g. X-ray binaries, white dwarfs, black hole candidates, accretion discs, pulsars, supernovae, nucleosynthesis, GRB, SGR, AGN)

  • Science operations of space observatories and community involvement

Course objectives

The student will gain relevant information that will enable him/her to follow the current literature on observational high-energy astrophysics in the hard X-ray/soft gamma-ray domain. Emphasis is on providing a complete picture, i.e. from physical processes to elements of space mission design.


See MSc schedules.

Mode of instruction

Lectures with exercises.

Assessment method

Homework (exercises) and written exam.
See Exam schedule.


Blackboard will be used during the course. To have access, you need an ULCN account. More information:

Reading list

Recommended but not required reading:

  • M. Longair, High-Energy Astrophysics, Cambridge

  • V. Schönfelder, The Universe in Gamma-Rays, Springer

  • C. Fichtel & J. Trombka, Gamma-Ray Astrophysics, NASA

  • M. Harwit, Astrophysical Concepts, Springer

  • K. Lang, Astrophysical Formulae, Springer

  • A. Cox (Ed), Allen’s Astrophysical Quantities, Springer

  • M. Longair: Cosmic Century (A history of astrophysics & cosmology), Cambridge

  • C. Winkler et al.: INTEGRAL: Science Highlights and Future Prospects, SpaceSciRev 161, 149 (2011)

  • Selected papers, conference proceedings, as indicated per lesson/topic (see also:


Via uSis.
More information about signing up for your classes at the Faculty of Science can be found here
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.
For Interest only & Contractual enrollment, please see this website

Contact information

Lecturer: Dr. Chris Winkler (former Project Scientist at ESA’s International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory)
Assistant: to be announced