Physics of Stars
(Fall Term 2012)
Left: by Mark A. Hicks [licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com
Right: Omega Cen [from STScI]
Lynne Hillenbrand (lah@astro)
Allison Strom (astrom@astro)
Antonija Oklopcic (oklopcic@astro)
This is the advanced undergraduate "stars" class at Caltech.
Our other junior/senior level course is "ism" or insterstellar medium.
Armed with these two courses plus your physics background,
you are equipped for our graduate classes.
Lectures: M 3-4 pm; W 3-4 pm; F 2-3 pm.
We will meet in Cahill 273, which is along the back hallway of the building
towards the eastern side.
Problem Sets: roughly weekly
Exams: The mid-term assessment will
be an evaluation of conceptual understanding rather than problem solving ability.
The final exam will be open note, closed book, and held during finals period.
It will test both problem solving and conceptual understanding.
The material in this course naturally divides itself into three main topics:
stellar interiors, stellar atmospheres, and stellar evolution.
We will cover them in a logical sequence, incorporating a range of physics
areas (nuclear, atomic/molecular, thermal, radiative transfer)
in our discussions of the physics of stars.
Problem sets are a critical means of learning the material,
not just "busy work." Collaboration on problem sets is permitted
in the conceptual phase of completing an assigment, though students are expected
to work out the final solutions themselves. Several of the problem sets will
require use of computers for calculations and plotting of results.
Exams are not collaborative but handwritten notes such as class notes
may be permitted.
Grading will be based on the weekly assignments (~55%),
the mid-term exam (~15%), and the final exam (~30%).
If you have either constructive feedback or complaints about this course,
please come see me. You may also use the (anonymous if you like)
feedback form to provide input.
syllabus and reading assignments
Beyond your course reading/studying and class attendance,
a quick (daily) visit to the
Astronomy Picture of the Day
might broaden your astronomical horizons.
It is recommended that you review the relevant chapters in Carroll & Ostlie
(Ay20 text) as a refresher on the basics. Specifically, the chapters on
Stellar Atmospheres, The Interiors of Stars,
and The Sun are useful review as are the chapters covering star formation
and stellar evolution. We will build upon and expand
on this simple version of the material in the Ay 101 course.
The recommended text is appropriate for an upper level undergraduate
course. Please acquire a copy of:
LeBlanc, An Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics, 2010
with a small set of
errata available; i found that my copy
printed in 2011, September had all of these corrections accounted for.
There is an e-book version
through the Caltech library that can be read by one student at a time.
If you are looking for supplemental material,
there are many many books on stellar physics, some of them even good ones.
See the list below.
A few at about the right level for this course are the
Bohm-Vitense series, Prialnik, and also Philipps due to their emphasis on
explanations of the physical phenomena;
but they don't quite reach the needed depth and/or breadth
for use as Ay101 course texts. Graduate level texts are those by
Hansen/Kawaler/Trimble, Collins, Gray, or Rutten,
some of which we have actually used in this course in past years.
Bohm-Vitense, Stellar Astrophysics Vol. 2: Stellar Atmospheres, 1989
Bohm-Vitense, Stellar Astrophysics Vol. 3: Stellar Structure and Evolution, 1989
Prialnik, An Introduction to the Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution, 2000
Phillips, The Physics of Stars, 1999
Bowers & Deeming, Astrophysics Vol. 1: Stars, 1984
Collins, Fundamentals of Stellar Astrophysics, 1989
Hansen, Kawaler, & Trimble, Stellar Interiors, 2004 (2nd edition)
Rutten, Radiative Transfer in Stellar Atmospheres, 2003
Gray, The Observation and Analysis of Stellar Photospheres, 2005 (3rd edition)
The above are
On-Line (note that these are arranged from less to more sophisticated user experience)
Post-Main Sequence HR Diagram
Main Sequence Interiors Applet
via the "Starcode" Model
"EZ" Stellar Evolution
input/output details and
MESA - A high level code/interface covering everything we need to know, but somewhat complex to install!
part 1 -- review/overview and basic physics
part 2 -- star formation
part 3_1 -- stellar atmospheres - first set
part 3_2 -- stellar atmospheres - second set
part 4 -- stellar interiors
part 5 -- stellar nucleosynthesis and evolution
Please please please get your sets in on time. It is easiest on
everyone (the professor, the TA, and - especially - your fellow students)
if all homeworks are turned in by the due date/time so that they
can be graded together and turned back to you with solutions in a timely manner.
Please write next to your name on submitted work how long it took *you*
to do the set.
ps1 due 11 October (TA = Antonija)
ps2 due 18 October (TA = Antonija) - note that there is a second page
ps3 due 25 October (TA = Allison)
ps4 due 1 November (TA = Allison) - note that there is a a second page
EXTRA: If you would like additional reading material on radiative transfer
I recommend looking through
these notes, from Rolf Kudritzki at UH
and accompanying data file
due 12 November (sorry, no help from TAs)
midterm solutions (part 2 only)
ps5 due 15 November (TA = Allison)
there is no problem set due 22 November, but you might want to get started on next week's:
ps6 due 29 November (TA = Antonija)
ps7 due 6 December (TA = Antonija)
Left: Experimental convection moving top-to-bottom
Right: Oberved convection moving bottom-to-top [viewed from my office during the 2009 Station Fire]
Last Revised: 17 November 2012 by LAH