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Particles, Nuclei and Universe

This major course proposes to learn the basics features about the elementary particles, the fundamental interactions of nature, nuclear structure, nucleosynthesis, stellar evolution and cosmology.

Syllabus : " Particles, Nuclei and Universe "

- Lectures 40 hours, Tutorials 30 hours (1st Semester) -

(Elias Khan, Laurent Verstraete, Samuel Wallon)

Chapter 1: Particles and symmetries (GM)
Klein-Gordon equation & Time-dependent perturbation theory
Application to processes with scalar particles
Calculation of basic particle reactions / introducing the Feynman diagrams
Symmetries of particles / reactions (spacetime, internal, gauge)
Experiments: collisions, kinematics and conservation laws

Chapter 2: Hadron synthesis (GM)
The quark model
The main hadron properties
Experimental proofs: partons, colors and gluons
Phenomenology of the hadrons

Chapter 3: The primordial Universe (LV)
I- The distant Universe: Objects and distances, distribution of matter - Evidence for dark matter - The cosmological principle - The expansion law and its recent acceleration - The FLRW metrics and the scale factor R(t)
II- Cosmic evolution: The observational pillars for the Big Bang model - The energy
content of the Universe, the critical density - The Friedmann equations - Applications
III- The building of matter after big-bang Nucleosynthesis of light elements, the neutron-to-proton ratio, baryon density and baryon-to-photon ratio - The recombination, decoupling of matter and radiation

Chapter 4: The nucleus, a unique manybody system (EK)
Dimensionless study of many-body systems
Finite systems, the spin-orbit rule
The case of nuclei: from QCD to the nucleon-nucleon interaction, nuclear superfluidity
From mean-field to magic numbers, the isospin symmetry, the nuclear chart

Chapter 5: From nuclear states to nuclear dynamics (EK)
Nuclear states: localisation
Nuclear spontaneous reactions: more than a dozen of radioactivities
Statistical physics-like approaches: the liquid drop (mass parabola, the alpha radioactivity, fission and fusion)
Probing nuclei, Astronuclei

Chapter 6: Star formation and evolution (LV)
I- From cloud to star: Gravitational instability, cloud fragmentation and Initial mass function - Free fall and hydrostatic evolution - Disk formation
II- A star on the main sequence properties of a star on the main sequence, mass-luminosity relationship- Evolution in the HR diagram - Stellar nucleosynthesis - White dwarf stage

Recommended textbooks:

  • Classical electrodynamics (Jackson)
  • Quarks and leptons (Halzen, Martin)
  • Quantum mechanics, Vol. 1 & 2 (Cohen-Tannoudji, Diu, Laloe)
  • Relativistic quantum mechanics (Greiner)
  • Nuclear Physics in a Nutshell (Bertulani)
  • The formation of stars (Stahler, Palla)
  • Principles of stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis (Clayton)

Course prerequisites and corequisites

- Classical mechanics (and Lagrangian formulation if possible)
- Basics in statistical physics
- Quantum mechanics
- Special relativity
- Classical field theory: Maxwell equations (and beyond if possible)

This Major course constitutes preparatory lectures for the following Minor courses of the 2nd semester: «Astrophysics and Astroparticles», «Experiments and Applications in Sub-atomic Physics» and «General Relativity and Cosmology», as well as for the Tools «Advanced Mathematical Methods».

Course concrete goals

On completion of the course students should be able to: 

— Understand the major open questions in particle and nuclear physics, cosmology and stellar evolution
— Practice and predict basic physical related quantities: cross sections, star lifetime, particles quantum numbers, etc...