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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
RRY125 - Modern astrophysics  
Modern astrofysik
Syllabus adopted 2019-02-14 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPPHS
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Electrical Engineering, Engineering Physics

Teaching language: English
Application code: 85116
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: C
Maximum participants: 40

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0111 Written and oral assignments 1,5 c Grading: UG   1,5 c    
0211 Examination 6,0 c Grading: TH   6,0 c   14 Jan 2020 am M   06 Apr 2020 pm DIST   28 Aug 2020 pm J

In programs

MPPHS PHYSICS, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Magnus Thomasson

  Go to Course Homepage


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

Mathematics 30 c (including multivariable calculus), basic physics( including mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum physics).


The aim of the course is to introduce the students to the most important concepts of astrophysics and to give an overview of the modern view of the Universe. In particular, the course will focus on how basic properties of cosmic objects are measured, how physics is used in models of cosmic objects, and how astrophysical models are tested with observations. The course will provide a basis for continued studies in astronomy and astrophysics, but will also show students who choose to specialize in other branches of science how physics is used to understand the complex systems that make up our universe.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

- give an overview of the origin, structure and evolution of the Universe and its contents (planets, stars, galaxies),

- explain how basic properties of cosmic objects are measured (e.g. distances, sizes, masses and temperatures),

- explain methods to discover exoplanets,

- perform calculations (based on observational data) of temperatures and ages of solar system bodies, masses and radii of exoplanets and binary stars, magnitudes and luminosities, cosmic distances, masses of galaxies, and the expansion of the Universe,
- explain and use the radiative transfer equation in simple cases
- explain the basic physics and equations of stellar structure,

- review stellar evolution, and relate it to observations (including the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram),

- analyze radioastronomical observations to study the structure and kinematics of the Milky Way

- use kinematics to explain the basic structure of galaxies (spirals, ellipticals),

- review the present cosmological model and the evidence for it (including evidence for dark matter and dark energy),

- derive the Friedmann equation using Newton's mechanics and results from relativity, and solve it in mathematically simple cases


The emphasis is on physical understanding and on principles for how important properties of cosmic objects are measured. Several branches of physics are utilized (mechanics, quantum physics, statistical physics, nuclear physics, electromagnetism). Order of magnitude estimates will be used frequently.

- The Solar system (overview, geology and atmospheres, formation),

- Exoplanets: discovery and properties

- Stars (observational results, stellar structure and evolution, binary stars, compact stars)

- The Milky Way (basic structure, interstellar medium, star clusters, kinematics and structural components)

- Galaxies and galaxy clusters (galaxy classification and observational results, basic galactic kinematics and dynamics, active galactic nuclei, galaxy interactions and galaxy evolution),

- Cosmology (expansion of the universe, abundances of elements, the cosmic microwave background, the big bang, cosmological models)


The course includes lectures, problem solving sessions and a compulsory project.


"Astrophysics for Physicists", Arnab Rai Choudhuri, Cambridge University Press (2010). Also available on-line as en e-book at Chalmers Library.

Examination including compulsory elements

Written examination and compulsory assignment.

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.