Stars, Galaxies and the Universe - PHYS6070

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) James Urquhart checkmark-circle


Aims: To provide, in combination with PH507, a balanced and rigorous course in Astrophysics for B.Sc. Physics with Astrophysics students, while forming a basis of the more extensive M.Phys modules.

Physics of Stars
equations of state for an ideal multiple chemical component star; degenerated stars, Nuclear reactions: PPI, PPII, PPIII chains; CNO cycle, Triple-alpha process; elemental abundances; energy transportation inside a star; derivation of the approximate opacity and energy generation models as function of density, temperature and chemical components; Solar neutrino problem; polytropic models applied to the equations of stars; Lane-Emden equation; Chandrasekhar mass; the Eddington Luminosity and the upper limit of mass; detailed stellar models; Post main sequence evolution of solar mass stars; Red Giants; White Dwarfs; Neutron Stars; Degenerate matter; properties of white dwarfs; Chandrasekhar limit; neutron stars; pulsars; Supernovae

General Relativity and Cosmology
Inadequacy of Newton's Laws of Gravitation, principle of Equivalence, non-Euclidian geometry. Curved surfaces. Schwarzschild solution; Gravitational redshift, the bending of light and gravitational lenses; Einstein Rings, black holes, gravitational waves; Brief survey of the universe; Olbers paradox, Cosmology, principles, FRW Metric, Laws of Motion & Distances, Friedmann equation, Scale Factor, Fluid equation, The Hubble Parameter, Critical Density parameter, Cosmological Constant parameter, Radiation-Matter-Dark Energy phases; The CMB, Temperature Horizons. Monopoles. Flatness problem. Hubble sphere, Inflation, Anisotropies, Polarisation Baryon Acoustic Oscillations, Secondary anisotropies; Baryosynthesis, Nucleosynthesis, Dark Matter observations, Lensing, Bullet Cluster, Dark Matter candidates, Cosmic Distance Ladder, Redshifts Galaxy surveys; Acceleration equation, Deceleration equation, Supernova as standard candles, Dark Energy, Einstein Field equations, Coincidence problem, The Cosmic Dark Ages & AGN Reionisation, High-z galaxies


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 120
Total study hours: 150


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Test 1 (3 hours,15%)
Test 2 (3 hours,15%)
Examination (2 hours, 70%)

Indicative reading

Carroll & Ostlie, Modern Astrophysics, Addison Wesley, 2013
Bohm-Vitense, Volume 3; Stellar Structure and Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1992
Taylor, The stars: Their structure and Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 2010
Berry, Principles of Cosmology and Gravitation, Adam Hilger, 1989
Roos, Introduction to Cosmology, Wiley, 2015
Peacock, Cosmological Physics, Cambridge University Press, (1999)
Rowan-Robinson, Cosmology, OUP, 2004

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical laws and principles of astrophysics, and their application to diverse areas of physics.
Identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
Solve problems in physics involving stars and galaxies using appropriate mathematical tools.
Use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour of stars and galaxies and the universe.
Present and interpret information about stars and galaxies graphically.
Make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources about astrophysics as part of managing their own learning.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Solve problems, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems. Numeracy is subsumed within this area.
Use analytical skills – associated with the need to pay attention to detail and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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