This three-day intensive short course explored the most violent and mysterious realms of modern
astronomy: astronomy of the highest energy phenomena. It probed the science behind the violent
worlds of black holes, neutron stars, active galactic nuclei, supernovae, high energy particles from
space, x-ray & gamma-ray bursts; as well as the experiments to observe these phenomenon.
The instructors were researchers at the scientific forefront who are trying
to understand these incredibly powerful events
The course provided participants with a firm foundation in modern high energy astronomy. It also offerd
practical tools, such as short animations, that helped participants bring this world to a wider audience.
Ultimately these KICP courses aim to help bring the excitement of discovery into the planetarium and
thereby to the public (see Impact).
Some of the most astounding recent discoveries about our universe have been made by telescopes and
instruments collecting forms of natural radiation from space, which are invisible to the human eye. For
example, the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to
scientists who worked in collecting astrophysical x-rays and solar neutrinos. This course focused on the
high energy parts of the electromagnetic spectrum where radiation displays almost pure quantum
characteristics, arriving as discrete photons. We also explored the phenomena of high energy particles
arriving from space, where nature manages to produce sub-atomic nuclei with energies over a billion
times larger than possible in accelerators on Earth. Another area of interest was the ghostly world of
neutrinos, in which the inhabitants are many but the interactions are few.
The origins of all of these particles from space are some of the most exotic places known in our universe:
near the edges of black holes, at the outskirts of supernovae explosions, or from the enormous jets
produced in active galaxies. This course was intended to help introduce the high energy universe into the
planetarium setting by bringing together the researchers making the discoveries with planetarium staff,
who interact directly with the public.
Although "Extreme Astronomy" was taught by some of the world's leading experts, who are making many
of the discoveries that the short course explored, it remained focused on bringing the science of high
energy astrophysics to the public in a planetarium setting. This is reflected by the primary course location,
which was the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum. The course structure consisted of lectures,
question and answer sessions, hands-on laboratory sessions, tours, computer laboratory sessions, and
workshop sessions. If the success of the KICP's previous cosmology course for planetarium staff is an
accurate indicator we expect this course to be tremendously rewarding and to help change planetarium
(see 2003 Cosmology Short Course and Impact)
A special thanks to our principal collaborators: the Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA) and
the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.