Héctor G. Arce



ASTR 030: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life  (Fall 2009)

This freshman seminar will introduce non-science major students to the exciting (and relatively young)  science of astrobiology.  The course will begin with an introduction to our current understanding of how life emerged and evolved on Earth. We will then discuss how we use our knowledge of life on Earth to search for life elsewhere in the Universe. We will examine our current understanding of what makes a planet a habitable world and the techniques for searching for life in our solar system (i.e., Mars and Europa). Students will also learn the current techniques for detecting exoplanets (i.e., planets beyond our solar system), the nature of extrasolar planetary systems and how we will be able to search for life signatures in these distant worlds. We will end with a discussion of the past, current, and future searches for extraterrestrial intelligence.  Click here for a copy of the syllabus.

ASTR 360/560: Interstellar Matter and Star Formation  (Spring 2010)

In this course we will discuss the physical and chemical processes in the interstellar medium (ISM). We will start with an overview of the composition, extent, temperature, density and velocity structure of the ISM. We will then review the different excitation and radiative processes that take place in the ISM. We will examine the properties of the cold and hot ISM, as well as dust in the Milky Way and other galaxies, and discuss the dynamics and evolution of the interstellar medium including interactions between stars and interstellar matter. We will also concentrate on the physics and chemistry of molecular clouds and the process of star formation.

ASTR 385/585: Radio Astronomy (Fall 2008)

Introduction to radio astronomy, theory and techniques. Includes radiation fundamentals, antenna theory and an introduction to radio interferometry. Discussion of spectral line radio observations and of thermal and non-thermal radio emission mechanisms in the context of astronomical observations of stars, planets, pulsars, active galactic nuclei, the cosmic microwave background, masers, HII regions, hydrogen and molecular clouds.