Physics 3150: Astrophysics I

3150 Astrophysics I
covers macroscopic and microscopic physics related to stellar structure, energy production, and evolution. This includes stellar observables, gravity and other forces, the Virial Theorem, light and matter in stars, stellar spectra and classification, Hertzsprung-Russel diagrams and properties of main sequence dwarf stars, radiation in the stellar atmosphere, structural relationships and stellar models, energy sources and energy transport in stars, star formation and stellar evolution, nucleosynthesis, variable stars, Chandrasekhar’s limit, and degenerate remnants.

PR: PHYS 2053, 2750 (or 2056), and 2820
CR: 3160

Looking at and thinking about stars is the first step toward a deeper interest in physics and perhaps a career for many physicists and physics students. The fact that we can know so much about objects that are so distant, both in time and space, reflects the remarkable accomplishments of many generations of astronomers, astrophysicists, and physicists. Understanding how a star works, and why stars evolve the way they do, touches on knowledge from many branches of physics including modern physics, thermal physics, nuclear physics, optics, mechanics, and so on. Physics 3150 deals primarily with the properties of stars and the evolution of stars but it applies material from all of these branches of material to explore topics such as the structure of stars, energy production in stars, the transport of energy out of stars, the relationships between masses, temperatures, and luminosities of stars in different classes, nucleosynthesis and the synthesis of heavy elements, star formation, evolution of stars after they leave the main sequence. The course ends with a discussion of the fates of stars with different initial masses. These fates range from supernovae to white dwarfs and planetary nebulae. Material in the text is heavily supplemented with material from other sources including other texts and online material from sources like NASA and the European Space Agency.


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