Stellar observations and the quest for understanding stars have always been at the core of astronomy since ancient times. Stars are not only extraordinary physics laboratories, but they are also vital to our understanding of the life cycle of systems at all scales, such as planets, galaxies and the intergalactic medium. In this course, you will first learn the basic physics of stellar structure in all relevant physical regimes. Then, we will follow a journey through a star’s life where its structure changes as a function of time. We will only focus on isolated stars.
The goal of the course is to understand the structure and evolution of stars, and their observational properties, from the pre-main-sequence, through the main-sequence, and post-main-sequence phases, how this relates back to fundamental physical processes including the interaction of matter and radiation, thermodynamics and the equation of state of gasses, nucleosynthesis and the formation of elements, and to apply this understanding to a state-of-the-art code for stellar evolution, MESA.
After completion of this course, you will be able to answer quantitative and qualitative questions about a star’s interior structure and life path, when considering an isolated star, ignoring magnetic fields and rotation.
This means that after this course you will be able to:
Run and process the output of the MESA stellar evolution code
Recognise a star’s evolution stage from its observational appearance
Name the main uncertainties in the current knowledge of stellar structure and evolution
Write a clear and professional scientific report
In this course, the homework will train your scientific writing skills.
Mode of instruction
Written exam (70% of the final grade), see the Astronomy master examination schedules
Homework assignments: numerically calculating a stellar evolution track, visualising the output and critically reporting your work in written form (30% of the final grade)
Passing grades are required in both the final exam and the homework.
Blackboard will be used to communicate with students and to share lecture slides, homework assignments, and any extra materials. You must enroll on Blackboard before the first lecture. To have access, you need a student ULCN account.
Stellar Structure and Evolution, Authors: Kippenhahn, R, Weigert, A, Weiss, A, Springer Verlag (recommended)