Institute of Astronomy

Part II Structure and Evolution of Stars

Michaelmas Term, 24 Lectures – Prof. Paul Hewett

1. Basic Concepts

  • Course overview
  • Mass, Temperature, Luminosity Gravity, composition, Age
  • Photometry and stellar colours; Spectra and spectral lines
  • Distance: parallax, apparent and absolute magnitudes
  • Masses from binary stars
  • Temperature: black-body radiation, Wien’s Law
  • The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram and spectral classification

2. Stellar Structure

  • Timescales; dynamical, thermal nuclear
  • Energy generation, thermonuclear reactions
  • Energy transport; opacity, radiative and convective transport
  • Equations of stellar structure
  • Hydrostatic equilibrium, Virial Theorem, Pressure
  • Stellar properties as a function of mass, homology
  • Degeneracy: Chandrasekar limit

3. Stellar Evolution and the Hartzsprung-Russell diagram

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

4. Observational Tests and Constraints

  • The mass-luminosity relationship
  • Stellar abundances
  • The most massive stars and stellar winds
  • Supernovae

Prialnik, D.  An Introduction to the Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution, Cambridge University Press 2000, 2nd Edition 2010
Phillips, A.C.  The Physics of Stars, Wiley, 2nd Edition 1999
Ostlie, D.A. & Carroll, B.W.  An introduction to Modern Astrophysics Addison-Wesley 1996, 2nd Edition 2013
Tayler, R.J.  The Stars: their Structure and Evolution, Cambridge University Press 1994
Green, S. & Jones, M., An Introduction to the Sun and Stars, Cambridge University Press, 2004
Gray, D.F. The Observation and Analysis of Stellar Photospheres 3rd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2008

Example sheets and lecture notes can be found here


Page last updated: 7 October 2016 at 08:38