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Stellar Structure and Evolution


Admission requirements



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.

Course objectives

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

Soft skills

In this course, the homework will train your scientific writing skills.


See Astronomy master schedules

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Written exam (70% of the final grade), see the Astromoy 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 is not used in this course. Relevant files used in the course can be downloaded from the course website.

Reading list

Stellar Structure and Evolution, Authors: Kippenhahn, R, Weigert, A, Weiss, A, Springer Verlag recommended


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: Dr. Y. (Yamila) Miguel
Assistants: Stella Reino, Fraser Evans
Course website: Stellar Structure and Evolution