PHY-20002 - Stellar Astrophysics
Coordinator: Coel Hellier Room: LJ2.04 Tel: +44 1782 7 34243
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 734921

Programme/Approved Electives for 2020/21


Available as a Free Standing Elective





Registration on the second year of a physics/astrophysics degree programme.

Barred Combinations


Description for 2020/21

The module covers the basics of nuclear and particle physics, and then discusses how nuclear burning affects the structure and evolution of a star. It then proceeds to discuss the end-points of stellar evolution, and the origin of the elements that make up our solar system.
There is also a laboratory component aimed at enhancing experimental and communication skills. The laboratory sessions focus on a variety techniques to analyse and interpret real astronomical data.

This module provides an understanding of nuclear and particle physics particularly as it relates to processes occurring in stars, how this drives the evolution of stars, and hence how the elements are created and distributed. You will acquire skills in handling large bodies of complex (astronomical) data, analyse their statistical properties, and use them to advance our scientific knowledge.

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

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. You should understand forces as due to the exchange of virtual mediators.
2. You should understand nuclear reactions as the quantum tunnelling into and out of nuclei and be able to apply this understanding to the most important nuclear reactions in stars.
3. You should be able to perform order-of-magnitude calculations of reaction rates.
4. You should understand the effect of physical processes on the structure and evolution of stars.
5. You should be able to account for the origin of elements of different masses.
6. You will understand the properties of astronomical data, how to define observing strategies and how to derive scientific results from these.
7. You will be able to perform statistical analyses, using appropriate software to interpret astronomical data.

Study hours

24 hours of lectures
12 hours problem classes
18 hours laboratory work
24 hours laboratory reports and problem sheets
70 hours examination revision and private study

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Unseen Exam weighted 60%
2 hour unseen exam, choice of 4 from 6 questions

2: Tutorial weighted 10%
Assessment based on weekly attendance and engagement
Completing assigned problems on Stellar Astrophysics in problem classes, with assistance given as necessary.

3: Exercise weighted 10%
Four problem sheets

4: Report weighted 20%
Two laboratory reports