Subject details

  • Topics
    • The bulk properties and structure of the Sun
    • Distance, magnitudes, colours and luminosity of stars
    • Spectral lines and spectral types of the stars
    • The interstellar medium and the birth of stars
    • The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and the ZAMS
    • Life on the main sequence, lifetime and mass-luminosity relations
    • Evolution of a solar mass star: red giants, planetary nebulae and white dwarfs
    • Variable stars
    • Supernovae, supernovae remnants and creation of the elements
    • End products: neutron stars, pulsars, black holes
    • Gamma ray bursts: observations and theory
    • Binary star systems, open clusters and globular clusters
    • The structure of the Milky Way, the galactic centre, dark matter
  • Study resources
    • Instructional Methods
      • Disscusion forum/Discussion Board
      • Online Quizzes/Tests
      • Online assignment submission
      • Standard Media
      • Web links

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

  1. appreciate and understand the way stars are classified and the approaches used to discover their properties
  2. understand the principles involved in the life cycle of stars, from protostar to stellar remnants
  3. communicate the basic principles and concepts about our Galaxy and its constituents (stars, protostars, stellar remnants, gas clouds, dark matter) in a non-technical way understandable to the wider public
  4. perceive the limits of our understanding of our place in the Galaxy, including an awareness of the place of dark matter in modern astronomical theories
  5. research an astronomy topic in depth, using dependable sources of astronomical information on the internet.
  • Assignment 1 - Assignment (30%)
  • Assignment 2 - Test (20%)
  • Assignment 3 - Essay (20%)
  • Assignment 4 - Project (30%)

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a subject

Entry Requirements

Equivalent Subjects

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

  • SWI-HET603

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject aims to provide an introduction to the birth, life and death of stars and the structure of our Galaxy. The emphasis is on conceptual astronomy rather than mathematical techniques.

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