Astroparticle physics

This course is part of the programme
Doctoral study programme Physics

Objectives and competences

Astroparticle physics is a modern field that lies at the interface between particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. Rapid development of this field was sparked by the boom in particle experiments covering the high-energy range, including ground-based observations, satellite missions, and particle colliders. Since these probes are often tests of connected physical phenomena, they are best studied under a unifying framework: that of astroparticle physics.

The goal of this course is to give students an overview of the relevant topics, with a focus on the most relevant, long standing problems in this rapidly evolving field. Complementary to the 'Contemporary astrophysics' course it will focus on high energy experiments and processes relevant for particle astrophysical messengers. It will also cover selected topics from low redshift cosmology for which astrophysics of the interstellar medium is relevant, complementary to the 'Cosmology' course, which is focused on the early Universe.

Students will also get practical experience running one of the most used cosmic-ray simulators of propagation through the extragalactic and galactic mediums: CRPROPA. They will contrast their results with data from current observations and learn how to constrain theoretical models.

As a part of the final exam, they will be expected to prepare a short presentation on a pre-selected topic with the aim of developing critical thinking and understanding of the main scientific trends.




  • Astrophysical particle acceleration: - electrodynamics of compact objects (pulsars), - shock acceleration (super nova remnants, pulsar wind nebulae), - accretion, acceleration and collimation of relativistic jets (active galactic nuclei, gamma ray bursts).
  • Observations of high-energy messengers: charged cosmic rays, photons, neutrinos, gravitational radiation, and the emerging picture of the source properties
  • High-energy astrophysics in our galaxy: the interstellar medium, magnetic fields, diffusion, energy losses, and secondary emission.
  • Ultra-high energy extragalactic astrophysics: - the intergalactic medium, magnetic fields, energy losses, cosmic neutrinos, and cosmological gamma-ray signals.
  • The dark matter problem: its distribution and potential astrophysical signals
  • Data analysis: Ultra-high energy cosmic ray simulation and comparisons to data.
  • Intended learning outcomes

  • Students will acquire basic knowledge in astroparticle physics and be able to clearly identify the main topics which are in the center of contemporary research. They will also gain an insight in the expected improvements due to the data from upcoming telescopes.
  • Students will also acquire hands on experience with the standard numeric tool in high energy astrophysics and the comparison of thus generated models with the current experimental data.
  • At the end of the course students should have acquired enough of experience in the field of astrophysics to be able to independently survey the current research literature and prepare a short seminar on the topic of choice.
  • Readings

    • Malcolm Longair, High Energy Astrophysics, Cambridge University Press, 2011. Catalogue E-version
    • Berezinskii, Bulanov, Dogiel, Ginzburg and Ptuskin, Astrophysics of Cosmic rays, North Holland, 1990 Catalogue E-version
    • Alessandro de Angelis and Mario Pimenta, Introduction to Particle and Astroparticle Physics, Springer, 2018 Catalogue E-version
    • Pierre Sokolsky, Introduction to Ultrahigh Energy Cosmic Ray Physics, CRC Press, 2004


    Students will be evaluated based on: i) their homework assignments, ii) completion of the practical tutorial based on the CRPROPA code and iii) their final 'seminar like' short presentation on a selected modern research topic. 30/30/40

    Lecturer's references

    Assistant professor of Physics at the University of Nova Gorica.