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Stellar Structure and Evolution

Stellar Structure and Evolution

Course Outline: 

The physics of stellar structure is still an on-going and exciting research, always bringing up interesting new discoveries. One of the most interesting recent discovery is the apparent solution to the solar neutrino problem, long thought to indicate inadequacies in stellar structure theory. Now indications are that the solar neutrino problem was a problem of particle physics. In this course we will go through the physics and mathematics (to some extent) of the structure of atmosphere, envelope and core of stars. We will attempt, throughout the course, where possible to relate theory to observations. A course of stellar structure is incomplete without mention of how it relates to evolution of stars, we therefore cover this as well. This course is based heavily on the "Lecture Notes on Stellar Structure and evolution" by Joergen Christensen-Dalsgaard.


  • Introduction.
    A general overview of the subject and how it relates to other aspects of stellar astrophysics.
  • Hydrostatic equilibrium.
    The virial theorem. simple solutions to the equation of hydrostatic equilibrium.
  • Polytropic models.
    Mini project on numerical solutions to stellar structure equations.
  • Radiative energy transport.
    Radiative transport in stellar interiors. Radiation from the stellar surface. The opacity. Stellar atmospheres. The energy equation.
  • Convective energy transport.
    The instability condition. Convective zones. mixing length theory.
  • Stellar structure equations.
    The temperature and pressure gradients. The boundary conditions. Dimensionless structure equations. Mini project on numerical solutions to stellar structure equations.
  • Models of main sequence stars.
    Solar models. The solar neutrino problem. Hot star models. Overview of the structure of the main sequence A stars. The peculiar A stars. Overview of stellar seismology
  • An overview of stellar evolution.


  • E Bohm-Vitense Introduction to stellar astrophysics, vol 3, stellar structure and evolution., Cambridge University Press (1992).
  • J Christensen-Dalsgaard Lecture notes on stellar structure and evolution., Institut for Fysik og Astronomi, Aarhus University, (1995).
  • R Kippenhahn & A. Weigert, Stellar structure and evolution, Springer-Verlag, Berlin (1990).
  • A C Phillips, The physics of stars , John Wiley & Sons (1994).

Programmes | by Dr. Radut