PHY-30024 - Binary Stars and Extrasolar Planets
Coordinator: John Taylor Tel: +44 1782 7 33494
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 734921

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

Stars in binary systems are the only ones for which we can measure their physical properties to high precision and accuracy, so are fundamental to our understanding of stellar astrophysics. Most stars are born in binary or multiple star systems, and interactions between stars in binaries are responsible for some of the most spectacular phenomena in the Universe: supernovae, stellar mergers and gravitional wave sources. This module will cover orbital motion in binary systems, its observable effects, how we use these to measure the properties of stars, the currently known population, the formation of binaries, and the many endpoints of binary-star evolution. Although the first extrasolar planet was discovered only recently, over 5000 of these objects are currently known and it is clear that they are widespread and remarkably diverse. Extrasolar planets are a special case of binary system and are studied using many of the same methods. This module will cover the detection of extrasolar planets, methods to measure their physical properties, the known populations of these objects, their formation and evolution, and the frequency of occurrence of the different types of planet throughout our galaxy and the Universe.

This module introduces students to the study of binary stars and extrasolar planetary systems. It aims to discuss and develop the methods used to study binary stars and extrasolar planetary systems both observationally and theoretically.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

describe the defining characteristics of different types of binary star and planetary systems: 1,2
measure the physical properties of stars and planets in binary systems using information presented in numerical or graphical form: 1,2
describe the basic concepts around the formation and evolution of stellar and planetary systems: 1,2
derive equations that describe two-body orbital motion and the observable effects of orbital motion: 1,2

Study hours

24 hours of lectures
10 hours of tutorials
10 hours doing tutorial questions
12 hours doing problem sheets
2 hour unseen exam
92 hours examination revision/preparation and private study

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Problem Sheets weighted 20%
4 problems sheets
Four problem sheets. Student will answer questions on a wide range of topics covered in the module. Each problem sheet should take 2 to 3 hours to complete

2: Open Book Examination weighted 80%
2 hour written unseen examination
Exam containing questions on a wide range of topics covered by the module. Five questions will be given and each student can choose any three to answer. All questions have equal weighting.