Undergraduate Course • Fall 2016
Stars are the building blocks of galaxies and play a central role in the evolution of structure in the universe, in the nucleosynthesis of most elements, in the formation of compact objects (white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes), and as tools for measuring cosmological distances (e.g., Cepheids and Type 1a SN). This course will cover the observations and physics of stars. Primary topics will include the structure of self-gravitating objects, energy transport in stars, nuclear fusion in stars, stellar evolution, the birth of compact objects, and stellar oscillations.
The course will emphasize physical understanding and basic principles. No previous coursework on stars is required. The course will make significant use of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and some aspects of fluid mechanics, but I will try to review the key physics when necessary.Topics covered include some, but not necessarily all, of the following. Observational constraints on the properties and evolution of stars. Theory of stellar structure and evolution. Stellar atmospheres and stellar spectroscopy. Stellar nucleosynthesis. Supernovae. Degeneracy of matter and structure of collapsed stars. Elements of gas dynamics, accretion onto compact objects, and x-ray sources. Dynamics and evolution of close binary systems. Stellar pulsation.