Stellar Astrophysics - 2017

To enrol in this unit, you must be accepted into a course from the provider. Read before you start

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Postgraduate
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP
  • Availability for 2016: SP3
  • Availability for 2017: SP3
  • Assessment: Assignment - Newsgroups (30%) , Project (50%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 2,440.00
Domestic continuing 2,084.00
International 2,690.00
International continuing 2,334.00

2017 Swinburne tuition fees are reduced for continuing postgraduate students.
Please login in to view the applicable amount.

Following on from AST80004, this unit aims to cover the physical processes underlying stellar properties and the principles behind models of stellar evolution.

At the completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain the classification schemes of stars, their physical parameters and the importance of the HR diagram
  2. Explain and summarise the mechanism of star formation and the evolution of stars from the main sequence through to the RGB and AGB phase
  3. Appraise and state the processes and properties of high mass stellar remnants, including supernovae, planetary nebulae, white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes
  4. Solve mathematical problems related to the physical processes that underlie stellar properties and evolution
  5. Explain and summarise stellar astrophysical concepts in a non-technical manner understandable to the general public
  6. Design and create a research project on an astronomy topic, assessing and critiquing current knowledge, using credible sources of astronomical information, data and research articles.
  • Assignment — Newsgroups (30%)
  • Project (50%)
  • Test — Computer Managed Tests x 2 (20%)

Equivalent units

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following unit(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • HET611 — Stellar Astrophysics

Mandatory prerequisites

You must have successfully completed the following unit(s) before starting this unit:

If you have completed equivalent study at another university, please contact a Student Advisor for advice.

You should complete introductory tertiary-level mathematics and physics before commencing in this unit.

  • Broadband access

In order to enrol in this unit, you must be accepted into one of the following courses:

Please visit the course details page and read the Requirements tab for more information about eligibility.

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Classifying stars: magnitudes, colours, spectral types; physical properties: flux, luminosity, temperature, radius, mass; distances; stellar spectra;
2Stellar energy: gravitational contraction versus fusion, stellar nucleosynthesis, reaction rates, PP chain, CNO cycle, triple alpha process
3Hydrostatic equilibrium and radiation pressure; equation of state; energy transport: opacity, convection;
4Protostars: cloud collapse, Jeans criterion and fragmentation, initial mass function, evol tracks and ZAMS, T Tauri stars, protostellar jets....
5Main sequence stars: low mass and high mass stars, energy generation, PP chain versus CNO cycle; end of hydrogen core burning and lifetime on the MS
6Evolution off the main sequence: low mass versus high mass stars; red giant branch, degenerate gas pressure, AGB, helium flash, horizontal branch....
7Supernovae: type Ia and type II supernovae, light curves, explosive nucleosynthesis, supernovae remnants
8Neutron stars: neutron degeneracy, rotation, magnetic fields, pulsar lighthouse model, synchrotron radiation, spin-down and pulsar lifetimes.....
9Stellar mass black holes: formation mechanisms, escape velocity, Schwarzschild radius, event horizon, spaghettification; spacetime curvature.....
10Pulsating stars: the instability strip, partial ionisation zones, thermodynamic heat engines; modelling pulsations, radial and non-radial modes.....
11Binary stars: formation theories; evolution of close binaries: Roche limit and accretion disks, novae, cataclysmic variables, low mass and high mass.
12Stellar clusters: types of clusters, open clusters and stellar evolution models, globular clusters and distances; colour-magnitude diagrams.....

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Embedded Multimedia
  • Online Quizzes/Tests
  • Online assignment submission
  • Standard Media
  • Web links

This unit is a core requirement in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.

Textbook information for this unit is currently being updated and will be available soon. Please check back regularly for updates. Alternatively, visit the The Co-op website and enter the unit details to search for available textbooks.

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