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Syllabus for

Academic year
RRY145 - Stellar physics
Stjärnornas fysik
Syllabus adopted 2019-02-14 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPPHS
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Electrical Engineering, Engineering Physics

Teaching language: English
Application code: 85134
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: D
Maximum participants: 25

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0114 Written and oral assignments 1,5c Grading: UG   1,5c    
0214 Examination 6,0c Grading: TH   6,0c    

In programs

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


Wouter Vlemmings

  Go to Course Homepage


General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

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


Stars are central objects within astronomy: they are interesting objects in their own right, and they are important components of galaxies whose dynamics and history can be studied through observations of stars. In addition, essentially all of the elements in our universe have their origin inside stars. Stars are complex systems. The theory of stellar structure and evolution rests on many parts of physics: mechanics, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, statistical physics, the most extreme examples of condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, atomic physics, and radiative transfer and spectroscopy. The course will provide a deep understanding of the workings of stars, and it will provide an excellent example of how applied physics is used to describe a complex phenomenon.

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

- describe what can be learned about stars and their evolution from observations
- write the equations of stellar structure and explain them 
- derive the characteristic timescales of stellar evolution, and the characteristic temperatures, densities, and pressures in stellar interiors
- describe radiative transport in stellar interiors
- describe convection in a star and list the consequences of it for stellar evolution; derive under which conditions a star is convective
- describe stellar atmospheres and how radiative transfer models are used to explain their properties
- explain the base for the spectral- and luminosity classification of stars
- describe the nuclear processes taking place in stellar interiors
- derive temperature dependences of different nuclear burning processes, and the energy released
- use a stellar evolutionary model to derive stellar characteristics
- describe the evolutionary tracks for stars of different masses
- analyze observational characteristics in terms of stellar physics
- explain the role of stars in the chemical evolution of the universe
- describe the end stages of stellar evolution: white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes


Observable properties of stars. Stellar atmospheres and radiative transfer. Equations of state. Degenerate matter. Radiative and convective energy transport. Nuclear reactions. Differential equations of stellar structure and their boundary conditions. Numerical models. Protostars and star formation. Stellar evolution. The Main Sequence. Stability and pulsations. Chemical evolution on the Main Sequence. Post-Main-Sequence evolution. Mass loss, winds, and explosions. Binary stars. Stellar rotation. Endpoints of stellar evolution: white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes.

A computer code for constructing stellar models will be available.


The course consists of lectures and exercises.


Lecture Notes

Examination including compulsory elements

Written and/or oral examination, and a written and/or oral assignment.

Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.