Structure and Evolution of Stars
(Fall Term 2016)
the final is out - please see gita patel in cahill 244 to pick it up
Lynne Hillenbrand (lah@astro)
Graduate Teaching Assistant:
Ivanna Escala (ie@astro)
This is the graduate "stars" class at Caltech,
taken by all first-year graduate students in Ay.
Other graduate students in e.g. Ph or PS often enroll, as do senior undergraduates from these three options.
- Monday 1 pm (Cahill 219)
- Wednesday 1 pm (Cahill 219)
- Friday 11 am (Cahill 312 - third floor, front hallway between the two cross-stitches of the building)
Self-study is highly recommended. See the syllabus below for recommended weekly reading.
To develop your understanding of course material,
you will be asked roughly weekly to complete analytic work
and/or coding, plotting and analysis relevant to
stellar structure and evolution concepts. See below.
Exams: The mid-term assessment will
be an oral evaluation of your conceptual understanding,
rather than problem solving ability.
The final exam will be a three-hour closed book exam that
will test both problem solving and conceptual understanding.
Ultimately you are responsible for your graduate education.
Please make an initial pass through the problems on your own.
Discussion and collaboration with your peers on problem sets,
and consultation with the TA, is permitted
in the conceptual phase of working an assigment.
After all, the goal is to improve your understanding of the underlying physics.
However, students are expected to work out the final solutions themselves.
You may not acquire or use
previous solution sets from this or any other stars-related course.
Several of the problem sets will require use of computers
for calculations and plotting of results.
Grading will be based on the weekly assignments
(~55% with the lowest score dropped),
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
syllabus and weekly reading assignments
We aim to cover:
basic physics of stellar interiors and atmospheres
(e.g. equilibrium conditions, thermodynamics, equations of state,
opacity, convection, radiative transfer, nuclear reactions)
analytic, heuristic, and real stellar models
stellar evolution from the Hayashi limit to compact remnants, for high to low mass stars.
Advanced topics beyond the typical undergraduate curriculum you may have already experienced include:
stellar pulsations / oscillations
binary star evolution.
There is an enormous range of topics and an extensive depth to which
they deserve to be covered - more than can be legitimately expected in
our mere 30 hours of class time over the term.
Please acquire a copy of:
Kippenhahn, Weigert, & Weiss
Stellar Structure and Evolution
There is an e-book version
through the Caltech library that can be read by one student at a time.
Please be courteous to your fellow students and close out the computer access
when you are done.
If you are looking for supplemental material,
there are many many books on stellar physics.
Please consult the following to deepen and broaden your understanding
of various topics in stars.
For the graduate level:
Iben, Stellar Evolution Physics, 2013 (two enormous but complete volumes)
Hansen, Kawaler, & Trimble, Stellar Interiors, 2004 (2nd edition)
Radiative Transfer in Stellar Atmospheres , 2003
Gray, The Observation and Analysis of Stellar Photospheres, 2005 (3rd edition)
Hubeny and Mihalas Theory of Stellar Atmospheres, 2015
Collins, Fundamentals of Stellar Astrophysics, 1989
Clayton, Principles of Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis
Christensen-Dalsgaard, Lecture Notes on Stellar Oscillations , 2003
Shapiro and Teukolsky, Black holes, white dwarfs, and neutron stars
Padmanabhan, Theoretical Astrophysics, Vol2: Stars and Stellar Systems
- Physical Processes in Stellar Interiors
- Advanced Evolution of Single Stars
For undergraduate level review:
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
The above should all be
for this course, in our own
astrophysics reading room / library.
Note that some Caltech course reserves can be in SFL.
Choi et al. 2016 paper on MESA grid which is recommending reading/skimming -- describes the real deal behind modern stellar modelling.
Christensen-Dalsgaard 2002 review article on stellar seismology
Stahler 1988 Understanding Young Stars: A History
Palla 2012 short paper with more on the Hayashi tracks
On-Line Visualizations of Ay123 concepts
Atomic database with wavelengths, energy levels, transition probabilities
X, Y, Z Calculator for detailed element abundance input
The famous rho-T diagrams - same plane, many ways to look at it
Zoomable and clickable
Table of Nuclides
spherical harmonics nomenclature
"EZ" Stellar Evolution
input/output details and
More sophisticated, but still easy-to-use
and some movies from pre-main sequence to helium burning
MESA - a state-of-the-art high-level code/interface covering everything we need; worth having but somewhat complex to install!
Besides your regular course reading/studying and class attendance,
a quick (daily) visit to the
Astronomy Picture of the Day
might broaden your astronomical horizons.
part 1 -- overview, basic stellar interiors
part 2 -- opacity, energy transport
part 3 -- states of matter, stellar seismology
part 4 -- energy generation
part 5 -- stellar models, numeric and analytic
part 6 -- star formation and pre-main sequence evolution
part 7 -- low-mass and intermediate-mass post-main sequence evolution
part 8 -- high-mass post-main sequence evolution and evolution wrap-up
part 9 -- stellar atmospheres
ps1 due 7 October
ps2 due 14 October
ps3 due 21 October
ps4 due 28 October
ps5 due 4 November
ps6 due 11 November
note the gap
ps7 due 2 December
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: 23 October 2016 by LAH