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Interstellar Medium


Admission requirements

Not applicable


The space between the stars is filled with matter, magnetic fields, and radiation. This course describes this ‘interstellar medium’ as an an integral part of galactic ‘ecosystems’. It provides an overview of the known constituents of the ISM (ionized, atomic, and molecular gas; dust; magnetic fields; cosmic rays; EM radiation), and the different environments in which these are encountered (the 2- and 3-phase models of the ISM) along with the observational diagnostics (atomic and molecular spectroscopy; spectral energy distributions). It discusses the physical processes that govern the interactions within the ISM and with stars (energy balance; shocks). And it highlights the relationships between the ISM and stars and their host galaxies (birth and death of stars; supernovae; nuclei of active galaxies).

Course objectives

Through lectures and assignments, the student will gain relevant background information and hands-on experience that will enable him/her to follow the current literature on the interstellar medium and to do research in this field.


See MSc schedules

Mode of instruction

Lectures and assignments

Assessment method

Written exam

Active participation in the assignment classes is mandatory. The student can only participate in the exam if all homework assignments have been handed in on time and an overall passing grade has been obtained for the homework.

The final grade is based upon the written exam only.



Reading list

Obligatory: Physics and Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium A.G.G.M. Tielens, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 9780521533720 (paperback), 9780521826341 (hardback), 9780511126543 (ebook).


Via uSis
More information about signing up for your classes at the Faculty of Science can be found here
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.
For Interest only & Contractual enrollment, please see this website

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof. dr. Xander Tielens
Assistant: Kimberly Emig
See the course website for more information