Institute of Astronomy

Part II Structure and Evolution of Stars

Structure and Evolution of Stars 

Michaelmas Term, 24 Lectures – Professor Max Pettini 

  1. Basic Concepts and Observational Properties: Course overview; Mass, Temperature, Luminosity Gravity, composition, Age; Photometry and stellar colours; Spectra and spectral lines;  

  1. Distance: Parallax, apparent and absolute magnitudes; Masses from binary stars;  

  1. Temperature: Black-body radiation, Wien’s Law; The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram and spectral classification 

  1. 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. 

  1. Stellar Evolution and the Hertzsprung-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 

  1. Observational Tests and Constraints: The mass-luminosity relationship. Stellar abundances. The most massive stars and stellar winds. Supernovae 

Recommended Reading 

  • Prialnik, D., An Introduction to the Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 2000, 2nd Edition 2010 
  • Lamers, H J G L M and Levesque E M, Understanding Stellar Evolution, IOP Publishing, 2017 
  • Guidry, M, Stars and Stellar Processes, Cambridge University Press, 2019 
  • LeBlanc, F, An Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics, Wiley, 2010 
Page last updated: 16 September 2022 at 13:49