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Subject details

  • Topics
    • Classifying stars: magnitudes, colours, spectral types; physical properties: flux, luminosity, temperature, radius, mass; distances; stellar spectra;
    • Stellar energy: gravitational contraction versus fusion, stellar nucleosynthesis, reaction rates, PP chain, CNO cycle, triple alpha process
    • Hydrostatic equilibrium and radiation pressure; equation of state; energy transport: opacity, convection;
    • Protostars: cloud collapse, Jeans criterion and fragmentation, initial mass function, evol tracks and ZAMS, T Tauri stars, protostellar jets....
    • Main 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
    • Evolution off the main sequence: low mass versus high mass stars; red giant branch, degenerate gas pressure, AGB, helium flash, horizontal branch....
    • Supernovae: type Ia and type II supernovae, light curves, explosive nucleosynthesis, supernovae remnants
    • Neutron stars: neutron degeneracy, rotation, magnetic fields, pulsar lighthouse model, synchrotron radiation, spin-down and pulsar lifetimes.....
    • Stellar mass black holes: formation mechanisms, escape velocity, Schwarzschild radius, event horizon, spaghettification; spacetime curvature.....
    • Pulsating stars: the instability strip, partial ionisation zones, thermodynamic heat engines; modelling pulsations, radial and non-radial modes.....
    • Binary stars: formation theories; evolution of close binaries: Roche limit and accretion disks, novae, cataclysmic variables, low mass and high mass.
    • Stellar clusters: types of clusters, open clusters and stellar evolution models, globular clusters and distances; colour-magnitude diagrams.....
  • Study resources
    • Instructional Methods
      • Disscusion forum/Discussion Board
      • Embedded Multimedia
      • Online Quizzes/Tests
      • Online assignment submission
      • Standard Media
      • Web links

At the completion of this subject 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 1 - Computer Managed Tests x 2 (20%)
  • Assignment 2 - Newsgroups (30%)
  • Assignment 3 - Project (50%)

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-HET611

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

Special requirements

No special requirements

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

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