Institute of Astronomy

Part II Structure and Evolution of Stars

Michaelmas Term, 24 Lectures – Prof. M Pettini

1. Basic Concepts

  • Importance of stars in the broader context of modern astrophysics;
  • The cycle of star formation/evolution; stellar populations in the Galaxy.
  • Basic properties of stars: mass, temperature, luminosity, gravity, chemical composition, age.
  • Photometry and colours; spectra and spectral lines.
  • The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram; spectral classfii cation of stars.

2. Measurements of Stellar Properties, I

  • Distance: parallax, apparent and absolute magnitudes
  • Mass: binary stars
  • Temperature: black body radiation, Wien's Law.

3. Stellar Physics I

  • Timescales: dynamical, thermal, nuclear
  • Energy generation: H and He burning; Si burning; r- & s- processes
  • Degeneracy; Chandrasekar limit
  • Energy transport: radiative and convective

4. Stellar Physics II

  • Equations of stellar structure
  • Hydrostatic equilibrium
  • Virial theorem
  • Pressure
  • Opacity
  • Stellar properties as a function of mass, homology

5. Stellar Evolution and the H-R diagram

  • Pre-main sequence evolution, Hayashi and Henyey tracks
  • Hydrogen and helium main sequences
  • Post-main sequence evolution: massive stars, supernovae, neutron stars, black holes
  • Post-main sequence evolution: low mass stars, planetary nebulae, white dwarfs, Type Ia SNae
  • Initial mass function and its consequences

6. Measurements of Stellar Properties, II

  • Spectral line opacity and broadening
  • Curve of growth, abundance analysis
  • Spectral lines as temperature indicators
  • Photospheric pressure
  • Chemical analysis; the solar abundance scale; evolutionary changes
  • Velocity fields in stellar photospheres; stellar winds


†Prialnik, D.  Introduction to the Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution, Cambridge University Press (2000).

† Phillips, A.C.  The Physics of Stars, Wiley, (1999). Carroll, B.W. & Ostlie, D.A. An introduction to modern astrophysics Addison-Wesley (1996).

Tayler, R.J.  The Stars: their structure and evolution, 2nd Edition Cambridge University Press (1994).

Gray, D.F. The Observation and Analysis of Stellar Photospheres 3rd edition CUP

LeBlanc, F.  An Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics Wiley

Max Pettini's teaching materials are here

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