Postal: Hearst Field Annex B-20, Berkeley CA 94720
Phone: (510) 701-5996
Fax: (510) 642-3411
Theoretical astrophysics, with emphasis on understanding the origin and evolution of
planetary systems, both extra-solar and solar.
Interested students should talk to me or the students with whom I collaborate.
Topics of interest include:
(1) Protoplanetary Disks.
Disks of gas and dust surrounding young
stars provide the reservoirs from which
planets ultimately coalesce.
Spectra and images of these
systems from ultraviolet to millimeter
wavelengths are modelled to understand
their thermodynamic states and
(2) Extra-solar Planetary Dynamics.
Extra-solar planets evince
surprisingly small orbits, remarkably large
eccentricities, and/or strongly resonant behavior due
to mutual gravitational perturbations. We seek
to understand the dynamical processes that
shape these orbits.
(3) Extra-solar Debris Disks.
A number of optically thin disks of dust have been stunningly resolved
around stars 10--1000 times younger than the Sun. Debris disks offer clues
regarding the endgame of planet formation. Imprinted in their structures may
be signs of active gravitational sculpting by nascent planets.
(4) The Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt.
Pluto has only recently been discovered to be
one of at least tens of thousands of asteroid-sized bodies
(Kuiper Belt Objects, or KBOs)
orbiting the outer Solar System. This ring
contains the most pristine, unprocessed
material in our planetary system
and holds clues to its
(5) Planetary Rings.
Rings furnish the most
accessible laboratories for disk dynamics;
they showcase a rich interplay of
forces due to interparticle collisions, self-gravity,
the gravity of shepherd moons, and
Fall 14, Spring 06/09: For graduate students. Learn the art of estimating everyday quantities to within a factor of 10. Topics treated: material properties (why neutron star crusts are like jello), fluid mechanics (power requirements for 747s), waves and sound (loudness of tea kettles), human physical performance (water loss from professional cyclists), and economics (taxing the rich versus the poor).
Spring 13: For undergraduates, geared toward those seeking to double major in physics and astronomy. Continues the survey of modern astrophysics begun in 7A, applying elementary physics to the understanding of astronomical objects. Accretion disks, black holes, gravitational lensing, superluminal motion, galaxies, cosmology.
Fall 09/10/11/12: For undergraduates, geared toward those seeking to double major in physics and astronomy. An introduction to modern astrophysics, applying elementary physics to the understanding of astronomical objects. Orbital motion; interaction of radiation with matter; stellar evolution; compact objects. Companion course to Astro 7B.
Spring 07/08: For graduate students and prepared undergraduates. Hydrodynamics and magneto-hydrodynamics, with emphasis on developing intuition, order-of-magnitude problem-solving skills, and the ability to interpret the astrophysical literature. Applications include stellar winds, accretion disks, and galactic sub-structure.
Fall 03/04/05/06/10: Fundamental principles underlying why we see what we see in astronomy, geared towards graduate students.
Spring 03/04/05: Planetary astronomy/astrophysics
at a level geared towards focussed undergraduate majors. Click on the link
for a full course description, including links to presentation topics
and problem sets.
Fall 07: Wiki-based graduate reading seminar on galaxies. Orbit theory, spiral structure, bars, numerical
algorithms (linear programming and tree codes), relaxation, black hole
dynamics, and formation.
Summer 03: Informal reading seminar to review classic, seminal papers in astrophysics, co-organized with Yoram Lithwick. Includes free food, courtesy of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center.
Fall 03: Graduate reading seminar to review seminal, pedagogical papers in earth science, co-taught with Raymond Jeanloz.
Fall 02/11: Graduate seminar on the gravitational
dynamics of planetary bodies. For a full course description, including
readings and problem sets, click on the link.
Spring 02: Graduate seminar on the dynamics of accretion disks,
co-taught with Eliot Quataert.
Mechanisms of angular momentum transport were reviewed,
with applications to planetary rings, protoplanetary disks,
and accretion disks surrounding black holes, both stellar and supermassive.
New York, 1973.
Married to Inn H. Yuk. Son Noah B. Chiang, born in Berkeley, 2007.
In December 2003, I wrote and acted in the Christmas Faculty Play.
In December 2006, I co-wrote and acted in the same. In December 2009, I wrote a scene in which the arxiv server cron achieved sentience. In December 2012, I wrote, directed, cast, acted, and created the special effects for the Holiday Play.
An action photo: