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PAP309 Interstellar Matter, 5 cr 
Code PAP309  Validity 01.01.2017 -
Name Interstellar Matter  Abbreviation Interstellar Ma 
Scope5 cr   
TypeAdvanced studies
  GradingGeneral scale 
    Can be taken more than onceno
Unit Master's Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences 

Target group 

Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences is responsible for the course.

Module where the course belongs to:

  • PAP300 Advanced Studies in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences
    Optional for:
    1. Study Track in Astrophysical Sciences

The course is available to students from other degree programmes.


The course can be taken in the first or the second year.

The course is lectured every other year and next time in 2018 in period II.

Learning outcomes 

You will know the chemical and physical composition of the interstellar medium (ISM), both regarding its gas and dust components. You will know the principles that determine the physical state of the ISM and understand the relationships between the ISM properties and the radiation observable from the ISM. You are able to analyse astronomical data, estimating basic ISM parameters (e.g. temperature, density, ionisation state) based on observations.

Completion methods 

Exercises and final project work. Part of the exercises may include simple programming tasks. The final project work can be based on literature study or, alternatively, on the analysis of real data sets.


Basic course of observational astronomy II (Havaitsevan tähtitieteen peruskurssi II). Basic course of astrophysics (Astrofysiikan peruskurssi) is strongly recommended.

Recommended optional studies 

Radio astronomy

  • Physical phases of the interstellar medium
  • Excitation and ionisation processes
  • Atomic, ionised and molecular clouds
  • Interstellar dust
  • Thermal balance in interstellar clouds
  • Interstellar chemistry
  • Star formation
Study materials and literature 

Lecture notes

Supplementary reading

  • Draine: Physics of the interstellar and intergalactic medium
  • Ward-Thompson: An introduction to star formation
  • Selected research papers (links will be provided on the course website)
Activities and teaching methods in support of learning 

Weekly lectures and exercises (individual work) and a final project (individual). Total hours 130.

Assessment practices and criteria 

Final grade is based on the exercises (50%) and the final programming project (50%).


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