Module Identifier PH28010  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Andrew R Breen  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Other staff Dr Richard Fallows  
Pre-Requisite Part 1 core modules  
Course delivery Lecture   20 lectures  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours End of semester examinations  70%
Semester Assessment Course Work: Example Sheets Example Sheets. Deadlines are detailed in the Year 2 Example Sheet Schedule distributed by the Department30%

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

Brief description

This module considers the physics of stars and galaxies. Starting with a review of laws and the various star classification schemes used in astronomy, the module describes the methods used to determine the distance of stars and hence their luminosity, radii and mass. A description of the Herzspring-Russell diagram illustrates an account of the physical processes involved in stellar formation and evolution, leading to the end-states of white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. The physical properties, structure and morphology of the galaxies are studied. The subject of galactic dynamics is introduced.


Coordinate systems. Magnitudes and Brightness. Absolute and Apparent, Visual and Photometric, Bolometric Magnitudes. Stellar distances. Mass-luminosity relation. Introduction to the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.

Interstellar medium. Conditions for gravitational collapse of a molecular cloud. Free fall time, hydrostatic equilibrium. The virial theorem, protostar temperatures, complications beyond the simple theory. Observations of star formation, T-Tauri stars. Entry to the Main Sequence. Energy sources in stars. The nature of matter under stellar core conditions. Hydrogen Burning in MS stars. The CN cycle and p-p chain. Energy transport.

Post-main sequence evolution for low and high mass stars. The end states of stars: Black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs. Supernovae, planetary nebulae.

Structure of the Galaxy: core, spiral arms, halo, clusters.
Galactic dynamics:
The virial equation, hidden mass. Types of galaxies: spiral, elliptical, irregular.
Active galaxies: Seyfert, quasars.

Transferable skills

Introductory skills for using the Internet and other electronic sources of information.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Marc L Kutner Astronomy - A Physical Perspective 2nd. Cambridge University Press 0521821967
** Supplementary Text
Smith Observational Astrophysics Cambridge University Press
Zeilik & Gregory Introductory Astronomy & AstroPhysics 4th. Saunders College Publishing


This module is at CQFW Level 5