This module will focus on the evolution of stars, from their formation to their death. The module will begin by examining the Sun with particular focus on its structure and the solar cycle. The module will progress to focus on the nuclear reactions occurring in stars. The module will introduce the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and its importance for modern astronomers will be explored. The underlying physical processes which underpin the phenomenon of stellar formation will be discussed. Following from this the evolution of stars from birth onto the main sequence will be discussed. This section will also include a discussion of the evolution of binary pairs and the effects that partner stars have on one another (e.g. mass transfer in binary star systems). The module will conclude with a discussion of the possible death of stars depending on their mass and the remnants which are left behind.
Module learning outcomes
At the conclusion of the module students will be able to:
Describe the nuclear reactions which power the stars and their implication for hydrostatic equilibrium
Explain the solar cycle and its implications for modern technology
Discuss the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram with reference to luminosity, spectral classification and surface temperature
Display understanding of the physical processes that underpin stellar birth and evolution
Compare population I, II and III stars
Describe how binary stars can be detected and the difference in the evolutionary paths between binary and lone star systems
Explain the death of stars with reference to their mass
Understand the Hubble sequence and classify galaxies according to their morphology
Describe the nature of the Milky Way galaxy, including structure, age-metallicity relation and the dark matter halo
Explain the kinematics of the Milky Way with reference to peculiar motions and the local standard of rest, the hydrogen 21-cm line and the flat rotation curve as evidence for dark matter
Understand galactic formation, evolution and interaction.
% of module mark
Special assessment rules
% of module mark
The tutor will give regular individual feedback throughout the module on work submitted.
The assessment feedback is as per the university’s guidelines with regard to timings.
Carroll, B. W. & Ostlie, D.A.: An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, Pearson, 2014
Freedman, R. A... & Kaufmann, W. J.: Universe, W. H. Freeman & Co., 2014
Phillips, A. C.: The Physics of Stars, Wiley-Blackwell, 1999
Green, S. F. & Jones, M. H.: An introduction to the sun and stars, Cambridge University Press, 2004