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Computational Astrophysics


Admission requirements

  • Bachelor's degree in Astronomy and/or Physics

  • Demonstrable knowledge of calculus

  • Experience with least one programming language


During this course you will learn how to perform research with existing computational tools and simulation codes. This will be done using the AMUSE software. You will learn how to perform astronomical simulations using the AMUSE framework. Students, in groups of two, will have the choice from various projects to work on for a number of weeks and in the end give a presentation of the work done and the project results. We use the AMUSE environment to perform a number of simulations to study astrophysical phenomena.


  • AMUSE in general

  • Gravitational dynamics

  • Stellar evolution

  • Hydrodynamics

  • Code coupling strategies

  • Python

  • Visualization

  • Algorithms

Course objectives

Be able to judge, select and adapt the proper numerical tools for conducting your own research.

Soft skills

In this course, students will be trained in the following behaviour-oriented skills:

  • Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)

  • Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction)

  • Critical assessment (asking questions, assumption validation)

  • Creativity (resourcefulness, lateral thinking)

  • Collaboration (extreme programming, joined research)


See Schedules Astronomy master 2017-2018

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Practical classes

Assessment method

  • Written exam

  • Homework assignments


Blackboard is not used for this course.

Reading list


Via uSis. More information about signing up for your classes can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof.dr. S.F. (Simon) Portegies Zwart
Assistants: Francisca Concha Ramirez


Admission is decided on the first day of the course by means of an exam.