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Module PY3A03 Stellar and Galactic Structure

Cohort: JS Physics and Astrophysics, JS Physics (optional), JS Theoretical Physics (Optional)

Credits: 5

Lecturers: Dr. S. Jeffrey, Professor J. Groh

Duration: Michaelmas Term, Stellar Astrophysics: 15 lectures, Galaxies: From the Milky Way to Quasars: 15 lectures

Assesment: End of Year Exam.

Part I: Stellar Astrophysics: Stellar structure and evolution are regulated by the opposing effects of gravity and radiation pressure. Ultimately gravitational collapse will turn a star in a cold compact object, such as a white dwarf, a neutron star or possibly a black hole. Our understanding of the physics of the stars has produced remarkably good results in the last decades, allowing detailed predictions of observable quantities in the various stages of a stellar life. The course will briefly illustrate the underlying physics and discuss the comparison between theoretical predictions and observational results.

Part II: Galaxies: From the Milky Way to Quasars: Gravitational forces determine the movements of the stars within a galaxy. Several aspects of this basic problem will be considered, such as space distribution of stars, stellar velocity distribution, high-velocity stars, rotation curve of stellar systems, integrals of motion, individual stellar orbits. The stars moving around in elliptical galaxies exhibit triaxial velocity ellipsoids, while the ordered motion in disk systems gives rise to spiral density patterns. The stellar movements indicate that large amounts of unseen mass may be associated with galaxies and with clusters of galaxies. Many details of stellar dynamics become evident in the close surroundings of our own Galaxy where a large body of observational data assists our understanding.

Lecture Notes: Notes for this course are available on Blackboard.