Some knowledge of atomic physics and quantum mechanics is required. When necessary, concepts of thermal and statistical physics will be discussed during the course.
All the light we see when we look up at the night sky comes either directly or indirectly from starlight. Understanding the physics of stars is therefore the basis of many aspects of astronomy: it is key to unravel the light of nearby and extremely distant galaxies. It also is an important factor in determining whether exo-planets can host life as we know it.
The main goal of this lecture series is to review the physical processes that determine the basic properties of stars. Topics that will be addressed include: nuclear energy production, energy and radiation transport, and the stellar structure equations. These will then be used to present models of the basic observable properties of stars such as mass, luminosity and surface temperature. These models also give a good understanding of the distribution of stars in the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram where for a collection of stars absolute magnitudes are plotted versus their observed colours. Also, we will review what happens when stars come at the end of their energy production. For massive stars we will study how supernova explosions lead to the formation of neutron stars and even black holes, while for less massive stars we will see that the final end products are white dwarfs. Finally, we will sketch some of the physical processes that lead to the formation of stars.
See BSc schedules.
Mode of instruction
Lectures and seminars.
Computer problems and class assignments together count for 30% of the final grade. Only if the average grade is higher than 5.0, students are allowed to take the written exam.
See Exam schedule.
Lecture notes, additional readings and assignments will be provided on Blackboard. To have access, you need an ULCN account. More information:
- LeBlanc, F. (2010): An Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics.
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