87966 - Astroparticle Physics

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students will learn about the physical mechanisms behind the acceleration, propagation and energy evolution of cosmic rays on a variety of astrophysical scales and environments, and about the observational and experimental methods to detect them. The course will also give an overview of open challenges in our understanding of neutrinos and dark matter candidates, closely connecting between astrophysics and particle physics.

Course contents

  1. General and historical overview on astroparticles: cosmic rays, neutrinos and dark matter.

  2. Overview on the Standard Model of fundamental particles and forces.

  3. Acceleration processes of cosmic rays: reconnection, Fermi I and II, Diffusive Shock Acceleration Theory. Case study: Solar Flares, Supernova Remnants, Radio Relics

  4. Energy losses of cosmic rays: ionisation losses, nuclear interactions, synchrotron, inverse Compton, adiabatic losses, photo and pair production. Case study: Radio halos in galaxy clusters and molecular clouds.

  5. Propagation of cosmic rays: Lorentz force, diffusion in different regimes, turbulence.

  6. Ultra High Energy Cosmic rays.

  7. Cosmic rays in the Milky Way: sources, composition and spatial distribution.

  8. Direct and indirect observations of cosmic rays.

  9. Neutrinos: sources, neutrino oscillations and detection strategies.
  10. Dark Matter: standard model, cosmological origin, possible candidates and detection strategies.


The slides prepared by the professor are meant to fully cover all topics of this Course.

As additional books to support most of topics, I suggest:

High Energy Astrophysics 3rd Edition, by Malcolm S. Longair.

Probes of Multlimessenger Astrophysics, by Prof. Maurizio Spurio

Articles and other sources provided by the Professor, to focus on specific topics, will be also indicated during the Course.

Teaching methods

Lectures in presence (or remote).

The most theoretical aspects of the physics of particles are presented together with numerical examples and calculations, in order for students to get used to the most practical aspects of this research.

(Anonymous) quiz using the Kahoot platform, in order to timely check the learning curve of the class.

Examples and applications drawn from the most recent astrophysical advancements.

Assessment methods

During the course: theoretical and numerical problems with solutions to be discussed with the teacher.

At the end of the course: final oral exam. 

Teaching tools

Slides (PDF), quiz on kahoot (https://kahoot.com), web resources for further reading.

Office hours

See the website of Franco Vazza