Stellar Astrophysics

Module code: PA3602

This module will build on your knowledge in speciality physics by further exploring topics in stellar astrophysics. In this module you will study the basic equations governing stellar structure and examine simple stellar models, including the application of the relevant constitutive relations (pressure, opacity etc). By exploring the fundamental physics of star formation you will gain an insight into the processes of stellar evolution.

Following on from evolutionary tracks in the H-R diagram, and the end states of low mass and high mass stars this,  we will examine the basic physics of compact stellar remnants – white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes – and violent outbursts, such as classical novae and supernovae.

We will take a more detailed look at gas accretion onto compact objects, focusing on accreting binary systems and try to understand how accretion theory extends to super-massive black holes in the centres of galaxies. Open questions and theoretical challenges are highlighted throughout the module. 

Topics covered

  • The equations of stellar structure and simple stellar models (polytropes)
  • Energy transport via radiation and convection
  • Star formation, evolution on the main sequence
  • Stellar remnants (white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes)
  • White dwarfs cooling, classical novae and supernovae
  • The standard accretion flow model
  • Accretion in binaries, Roche Lobe geometry


  • 30 hours of lectures
  • 2 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 118 hours of guided independent study


  • Coursework (30%)
  • Exam, 2 hours (70%)