Stellar structure and evolution
University of Turku, 2014

Lecturer: Juri Poutanen, room 111, Tuorla Observatory, juri.poutanen [at]

Stellar properties, luminosities, masses, temperatures, spectral classes and the HR diagram. Dimensional analysis: hydrostatic equilibrium, virial theorem, characteristic timescales. Fundamental equations of stellar structure. Stellar equilibrium. Theory of polytropes. Thermodynamic properties of matter: ideal gas with radiation, degenerate electron and neutron gases. Nuclear reactions: mass excess, binding energy, Coulomb barrier, quantum tunneling, Gamow peak, cross-sections and reaction rates. Nucleosynthesis. Energy transport. Opacity of stellar matter. Convection. Instabilities and stellar pulsations, the period-luminosity relation, the k-mechanism and the partially ionized regions, Cepheids and RR Lyrae. Phases of stellar evolution: proto-star, Main Sequence and post-Main Sequence. Evolution of low-mass stars. AGB stars, planetary nebulae, and formation of white dwarfs. White dwarf properties, the Chandrasekhar mass, thermonuclear explosions of white dwarfs as Type Ia supernovae. Evolution of massive stars, supernovae, formation of neutron stars and black holes, gamma-ray bursts. Binary stars, measuring stellar masses. Cataclysmic variables, polars, intermediate polars. Low- and high-mass X-ray binaries. Evolution of binary stars. Radio pulsars, accreting millisecond pulsars, X-ray pulsars. Stellar-mass black holes in the nearby Universe.

The course contains a number of demanding computer exercises.

1. Phillips, A.C.: The Physics of Stars, Manchester Physics Series, 1999
2. Padmanabhan, T.: Theoretical astrophysics, Vol. II: Stars and Stellar Systems, 2001
3. Tayler, R.J.: The Stars: their Structure and Evolution, CUP 1994 (paperback in 2011)
4. Bowers R.L. and Deeming T.: Astrophysics 1 - Stars, Jones and Bartlett, 1984
5. Prialnik D.: An Introduction to the Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution, CUP 2000
6. Karttunen H. et al., Fundamental Astronomy (chapters 9, 11, and 12.), Springer Verlag, 1993 (2nd Ed.)
7. Hansen C.J. and Kawaler S.D.: Stellar Interiors: Physical Principles, Structure, and Evolution, Springer-Verlag 1994.
8. Kippenhahn, R. and Weigert, A., Stellar Structure and Evolution, Springer-Verlag 1990
and compendium. The notes are based on the lecture notes by Stephen J. Smartt.
There also exist lecture notes in Finnish. [pdf]

Lectures and exercise sessions (about 25 all together) take place on Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10-12, starting Sept 2 until about end of November (break Oct 20-25)

Requirements: In order to pass the course one needs to get more than 50% of points for exercises, 50% of computer tasks and pass the final exam. There will be 9 sets of compulsory problems, which one needs to return by the deadline (late return reduces the points by 30%). The final grade for the course is determined by the exercises (30%) and by the final exam (70%).

Problem set 1. Deadline September 8.  [pdf]
Problem set 2. Deadline September 15.  [pdf]
Problem set 3. Deadline September 22.  [pdf]
Problem set 4. Deadline September 29.  [pdf]
Problem set 5. Deadline October 6.  [pdf]
Problem set 6. Deadline October 13.  [pdf]
Problem set 7. Deadline October 27.  [pdf]
Problem set 8. Deadline November 17.  [pdf]

Lectures and notes

September 2
Lecture 1. Introduction. [pdf]
September 4
Lecture 2. Equilibrium in stellar interiors. [pdf]
September 9
Lecture 3. Conditions in stellar interiors. [pdf]
September 11.
Lecture 4. Energy generation and transport. [pdf]
September 16.
Lecture 5. Energy transport by radiation and convection. [pdf]
September 18.
Lecture 6. Equation of state. Stellar opacity. [pdf]
September 23.
Lecture 7. Polytropes. [pdf]
September 25.
Lecture 8. White dwarfs. [pdf]
September 30.
Lecture 9. Nuclear reactions. General approach. [pdf]
October 2.
Lecture 10. Nuclear reactions. PP-reactions and CNO-cycle. [pdf]
October 7.
Lecture 11. Nuclear reactions. He burning. [pdf]
October 9.
Lecture 12. Computations of evolutionary models. Evolution of low mass stars. [pdf]
October 14.
Lecture 13. Evolution of massive stars. [pdf]
October 16.
Lecture 14. Neutron stars and black holes. [pdf]
October 28 and 30.
Lectures 15 and 16. Supernovae. [pdf]
November 18.
Lecture 17. Evolution of binary stars. [pdf]
December 11.
Exam. Questions: [pdf]