International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA)

About International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA)

IOAA is an international-level olympiad focused on the Astronomy and Astrophysics stream of Science. The exam aims to address the growing interest in the subject and promote it. The exam is organised every year by one of the participating countries.
The 16th IOAA will be hosted at Chorzow in Poland from 20th to 30th August 2023. IOAA allows the participation of students currently pursuing their higher secondary education and are Astronomy or Astrophysics enthusiasts.

IOAA Syllabus

The IOAA syllabus is divided into two parts: theory and practical. The details for these are mentioned below.

Theory Syllabus

Basic Astrophysics
  • Celestial Mechanics: Newton’s Laws of Gravitation, Kepler’s Laws for circular and non-circular orbits, Roche limit, barycentre, 2-body problem, Lagrange points.
  • Electromagnetic Theory & Quantum Physics: Electromagnetic spectrum, Radiation Laws, Blackbody radiation.
  • Thermodynamics: Thermodynamic equilibrium, Ideal gas, Energy transfer
  • Spectroscopy and Atomic Physics: Absorption, Emission, Scattering, Spectra of Celestial objects, Doppler effect, Line formation, Continuum spectra, Splitting and Broadening of spectral lines, polarization.
  • Nuclear Physics: Basic concepts including the structure of an atom, Mass defect and binding energy, Radioactivity, and Neutrinos (Q).
Coordinates and Times
  • Celestial Sphere: Spherical trigonometry, Celestial coordinates and their applications, Equinox and Solstice, Circumpolar stars, Constellations and Zodiac.
  • Concept of Time: Solar time, Sidereal time, Julian date, Heliocentric Julian date, Time zone, Universal Time, Local Mean Time, Different definitions of “year”, and Equation of time.
Solar System
  • The Sun: Solar structure, Solar surface activities, Solar rotation, Solar radiation and Solar constant, Solar neutrinos (Q), Sun-Earth relations, Role of magnetic fields (Q), Solar wind and radiation pressure, Heliosphere (Q), Magnetosphere (Q)
  • The Solar System: Earth-Moon System, precession, nutation, libration, Formation and evolution of the Solar System (Q), Structure and components of the Solar System (Q), Structure and orbits of the Solar System objects, Sidereal and Synodic periods, Retrograde motion, Outer reaches of the solar system (Q)
  • Space Exploration: Satellite trajectories and transfers, Human exploration of the Solar System (Q), planetary missions (Q), Sling-shot effect of gravity, Space-based instruments (Q)
  • Phenomena: Tides, Seasons, Factors influencing climate (Q), Eclipses, Aurorae and space weather (Q), Meteor Showers
  • Stellar Properties: Methods of Distance determination, Radiation, Luminosity and magnitude, Colour indices and temperature, Determination of radii and masses, Stellar motion, Irregular and regular stellar variabilities – broad classification & properties, Cepheids and period-luminosity relation, Physics of pulsation (Q)
  • Stellar Interior and Atmospheres: Stellar equilibrium, Stellar nucleosynthesis, Energy transportation (Q), Boundary conditions, Stellar atmospheres and atmospheric spectra
  • Stellar Evolution: Stellar formation, Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, Pre-Main Sequence, Main Sequence, Post-Main Sequence stars, supernovae, planetary nebulae, End states of stars
Stellar Systems
  • Binary Star Systems: Different types of binary stars, Mass determination in binary star systems, Light and radial velocity curves of eclipsing binary systems, Doppler shifts in binary systems, interacting binaries, peculiar binary systems
  • Exoplanets: Techniques used to detect exoplanets, Habitable zone, Classes of exoplanets (Q), Spectral signatures of possible life (Q)
  • Star Clusters: Classification and Structure, Mass, age, luminosity and distance determination
  • Milky Way Galaxy: Structure and composition, Rotation, Satellites of Milky Way (Q)
  • Interstellar Medium: Gas (Q), dust (Q), HII regions, 21cm radiation, nebulae (Q), interstellar absorption, dispersion measure, Faraday rotation
  • Galaxies: Classifications based on structure, composition and activity, Mass, luminosity and distance determination, Rotation curves
  • Accretion Processes: Basic concepts (spherical and disc accretion) (Q), Eddington luminosity
  • Elementary Cosmology: Expanding Universe and Hubble’s Law, Cluster of galaxies, Dark matter, Dark energy (Q), Gravitational lensing, Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, Big Bang (Q), Alternative models of the Universe (Q), Large scale structure (Q), Distance measurement at a cosmological scale, cosmological redshift
Instrumentation and Space Technologies
  • Multi-wavelength Astronomy: Observations in radio, microwave, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma-ray wavelength bands, Earth’s atmospheric effects, Artificial light and EM pollution
  • Instrumentation: Telescopes and detectors (e.g. charge-coupled devices, photometers, spectrographs), Magnification, Focal length, Focal ratio, resolving and light-gathering powers of telescopes, Geometric model of the two-element interferometer, Aperture synthesis, Adaptive optics, photometry, astrometry

Practical Syllabus

The practical will consist of 2 parts: observation and data analysis. The basis for all the practical exercises will cover the theoretical syllabus.
The observation Section will consist of the following:
  • Normal eye observation
  • Application of sky maps and catalogues.
  • Usage of coordinate systems in the magnitude estimation, sky, and estimation of angular separation.
  • Usage of basic astronomical instruments-telescopes and various detectors for observations.
The data analysis section will consist of the following:
  • Proper calculation of errors, identification of error sources, and estimation of their influence on the final results.
  • Proper use of graph papers with different scales, e.g., polar and logarithmic papers. Transformation of the data to get a linear plot and find approximately the “Best Fit” line.
  • Basic statistical analysis of the observational data.
  • Know the most common experimental techniques for measuring physical quantities.

IOAA Exam Pattern

The IOAA exam pattern is divided into 2 parts: theory and practical. The theory part of the exam will test the concepts of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and the practical part will test the application of the subject.

IOAA Eligibility

To participate in the IOAA 2023, students must meet the eligibility criteria below.
  • Must not have completed 20 years of age before 1st July in the year of the competition.
  • The student must not have completed his or her Class 12 before January 1 in the year of the exam.

IOAA Exam Date

The 16th IOAA 2023 will be held in Chorzów, Poland, from 10th to 20th August 2023.

IOAA Participation Fees

IOAA does not charge any participation fee for teams of up to 5 students and 2 team leaders. However, if there is a change in regulation, the teams may have to pay 500 USD to participate in the competition. If any team desires to take additional members, they will have to pay 1000 USD or more per person.

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