AST453 -- Stellar Atmospheres and Interiors

Spring 2008

Class Hours: 12:30 - 13:45 Morey 506

Prof:     Eric Blackman, Bausch &Lomb 417A, 5-0537,

Course Material and Texts:

This course will cover the physics of stellar interiors, stellar structure and stellar atmospheres, and some aspects of star formation.

There will be no required textbook but one useful book is by George W. Collins and is available in full online: Fundamentals of Stellar Astrophysics

The chapter titles form a good outline for the material to be covered:

Chapter 1: Introduction and Fundamental Principles

Chapter 2: Basic Assumptions, Theorems, and Polytropes

Chapter 3: Sources and Sinks of Energy

Chapter 4: Flow of Energy through the Star and Construction of Stellar Models

Chapter 5: Theory of Stellar Evolution

Chapter 6: Relativistic Stellar Structure

Chapter 7: Structure of Distorted Stars

Chapter 8: Stellar Pulsation and Oscillation

Chapter 9: The Flow of Radiation Through the Atmosphere

Chapter 10: Solution of the Equation of Radiative Transfer

Chapter 11: Environment of the Radiation Field

Chapter 12: The Construction of a Model Stellar Atmosphere

Chapter 13: Formation of Spectral Lines

Chapter 14: Shape of Spectral Lines

Chapter 15: Breakdown of Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium

Chapter 16: Beyond the Normal Stellar Atmosphere


Modern Astrophysics (Carroll and Ostlie)

Stellar Structure and Evolution (Kippenhahn and Weigert)

Theoretical Astrophysics vol 2. (Padmanabhan)

Tapestry of Modern Astrophysics (Shore)

Physics of Fluids and Plasmas (Choudhuri)


This will be an informal and interactive course. Grading will be Pass/Fail.


(1) Class Presenation/Project: Start Early!

(2) homework problems (maybe)

(3) Class Participation and possible class lecturing when I am away.

EXAMPLE TOPICS for Projects or Lectures ouside of Main Curriculum:

* Asteroseismology and Helioseismology (understanding the interior stellar structure from surface observations)

* Supernovae Type I and Type II (relation to stellar evolution)

* Planetary Nebulae (relation to stellar evolution)

* Role of Rotation for Stellar Structure (example: for Neutron Stars)

* Measuring Mass vs. Surface Rotation Rate Relations (correlations with magnetic activity and stellar type?, how is it done?)

* Pre-Main Sequence Stellar Evolution

* Numerical Simulations and Stellar Structure (what is the current state of issues)

* Planet Detection and Stellar Type (what do we know about the stars around which there are observed planets?)

* Variable Stars (e.g. Cepheids)

* Stellar Winds

* The first stars of the universe: differences between these stars and present day stars, their role in cosmology.

* What is the upper limit on stellar masses (theory and observation). Can "superstars" power quasars?

* Solar neutrino problem

* Galactic structure and stellar populations on the HR diagram

* Binary stars


Other Links: Astronomy picture of the day archive .