Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics

Advanced Labwork in Astronomy and Astrophysics

The specialized course in Astronomy and Astrophysics offers an advanced labwork. The experiments will take place at the sections Astronomy and High Energy Astrophysics (Sand 1) or at the section Computational Physics (Auf der Morgenstelle 10). The experiments in Nuclear Physics for students of Master Astro and Particle Physics will take place at Physikalisches Institut (Auf der Morgenstelle 14).


The lab course is listed on alma and is offered as a block course in the lecture free period. The current Ilias course for registration and group assignment is linked there and opens for registration a few weeks before the end of the lecture period.

The schedule for the individual groups is available a few days before the lab course starts. The status of the protocols is listed separately.

In case of organizational questions, please send a mail to Sebastian Diebold. Questions about a specific experiment should be directed to the respective tutor (see below).


  • X-ray-CCD (CCD, Astronomy/HEA, Thomas Schanz room A107, laptop distribution at room A107)
    Estimation of properties of a pn-CCD in the lab, analysis of measurements with the X-ray satellite XMM-Newton. A video of the experiment as well as the data and analysis tools are on a laptop for conducting this experiment at home. (experiment instructions; LINUX basics; poster (outdated), poster of the eRosita project).
  • MCP detector (MCP, Astronomy/HEA, Sebastian Diebold room A108, meeting place room A109)
    Using the micro channel plate detector of the ORFEUS echelle spectrometer the working principle and the properties of such detectors will be analyzed. (experiment instructions; poster)
  • Digital electronics for X-ray and gamma detectors (DERG, Astronomy/HEA, Chris Tenzer room A107, meeting place in front of room A107)
    Setup of a data aquisition electronics by means of programmable electronic components - FPGAs. (experiment instructions) - Note: As the expriment will take place in the basement, it is advisable to wear warm clothing, even in midsummer!
  • Photometry and spectroscopy (PH-SP, Astronomy/HEA, meeting place room A203)
    Solar and stellar spectroscopy and color-magnitude diagrams. (experiment instructions; poster)
  • Radio astronomy (RADIO, Astronomy/HEA, Victor Doroshenko room A219, meeting place in the institute garden at the radio telescope)
    Measuring of the milky way by means of the 21cm radio emission of hydrogen, generation of a rotation curve and of a map of our milky way. (experiment instructions)
  • Chaos in the planetary system (CHAOS, Computational Physics, Christoph Schäfer room C10 A40), meeting place C9 G09)
    In the classical N body problem the trajectories of N point masses in their common gravitational field are estimated. In this experiment, different numerical schemes for the solution of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) will be implemented and tested on the application to the integration of these trajectories. (web page of this experiment; LINUX basics; poster)
  • N-Body Simulations with REBOUND (NBODY, Computational Physics, Christoph Schäfer room C10 A40), meeting place C9 G09)
    In this part of the practical course, the students will use an existing N-Body software package to address several problems such as the stability of Saturn's rings and the Kirkwood gaps. (experiment instructions; LINUX basics)
  • Stellar Oscillations (STOS, Computational Physics, Christoph Schäfer room C10 A40)
    (experiment instructions; LINUX basics)

The posters of the experiments were presented during a labwork leader meeting held in Tübingen in September 2008.

Experiments in Nuclear Physics for students of Master Astro and Particle Physics:

  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR, Katharina Kilgus, Tel. 77081, Büro D4 P30; meeting place D3 P14)
    Basic measurements with pulsed NMR using liquid and solid samples which demonstrate the fundamental principles behind magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). (experiment instructions)
  • Mößbauer Effect (MOS, Marc Breisch, Tel. 76276, Büro D2 P11; meeting place D2 P40)
    The Mößbauer effect, or recoilless nuclear resonance fluorescence, allows to study tiny changes in nuclear energy levels. In this experiment the hyperfine splitting, isomeric shift and quadrupole splitting will be measured. (experiment instructions)
  • Neutron Activation (NAK, N/N; meeting place D2 P40)
    Study of radioactive decay of different materials, which will be activated by a neutron source (like in nondestructive material testing) and analysis of correlation between decay and activation times. (experiment instructions)

Students of the specialized course in Astronomy and Astrophysics usually carry out four experiments of the section Astronomy and one experiment of the section Computational Physics. Within the section Astronomy the experiment Photometry and Spectroscopy is obligatory.

Students of Master Astro and Particle Physics have to carry out at least three experiments of the sections Astronomy and Computational Physics and at least one experiment of the section Nuclear Physics.

Students work in fixed groups of usually two. Preferences concerning the group partner and the experiments to be carried should be stated at the registration or sent via mail in advance.


  • It is expected that the experiment instructions are read and understood by the date of the experiment. This will be checked by an oral attestation prior to the beginning of the experiment. Some experiment instructions contain excercises and questions in the theoretical part, which should be solved and presented during this attestation. In case of unsufficient preparation the students may be excluded from the experiment.
  • Successful participation in the basic module "Astronomy and Astrophysics" (study path Bachelor) or student of Master of Science Astro and Particle Physics.
  • Basic knowledge in programming:
    For the experiments carried out by Computational Physics it is expected, that the participants are able to write small programs by their own, e.g. in C or FORTRAN. Online tutorials are available on the web page Hints for the programming experiments. In case of questions or problems C. Schäfer will give some help.
  • The analysis of the Astronomy experiments is done ususally with the programming and interpreter language IDL. The required steps are described in detail in the corresponding experiment instructions.
  • Some experiments require some basic knowledge about LINUX.
  • For the experiment MCP detectors knowledge of Excel is helpful, but not really required.
  • The experiment instructions of MCP detectors contains at the end a chapter with general Hints for writing a protocol. It is obligatory to read these hints prior to starting the labwork and to subsequently follow these hints!
  • The programming experiments will take place in the computer room of the Theoretical Physics (CIP-Pool, Morgenstelle D2A38, login with the usual university account).