Master’s studies

Syllabus for The Physics of Stars

Stjärnornas fysik


  • 10 credits
  • Course code: 1FA223
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Physics A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), 3, 4, 5
  • Established: 2009-03-12
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Revised: 2017-05-04
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 30, 2017
  • Entry requirements: 120 credits including 30 credits in mathematics and 60 credits in physics, including Astrophysics I.
  • Responsible department: Department of Physics and Astronomy

Learning outcomes

After the finished course the student is expected to

  • account for basic properties of different types of stars at various stages of stellar evolution.
  • explain the physical processes that govern the structure and evolution of a star.
  • explain how the stellar properties are expressed in, for example, the Hertzsprung Russell-diagram.
  • account for how spectral lines are formed in the stellar atmosphere and interpret stellar spectra in a qualitative way.
  • account for the determination of the chemical composition and other stellar physical parameters.
  • account for the recent developments made within the stellar physics research field and illustrate problems that remain to be solved within this field.


Background: Elementary physics of gas and radiation in stellar interiors and stellar atmospheres. Interaction between electromagnetic radiation and matter. The state of matter in the Sun and stars, nuclear reactions, opacity. Energy transport in the Sun and stars. Equations of stellar structure.
Applications: Comparison between observations and predictions from theory. Formation of stars. Production of elements during different phases of stellar evolution. Red giants as advanced stages of stellar evolution. Solar and stellar variability and pulsation. Supernovae as engines of galactic evolution. Exotic stars: white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes


Lectures. Hand-in exercises. Seminars.  Individual essay and presentations on selected topics.


Active participation in seminars (2 credits). Essay and presentations (4 credits). Hand-in exercises (4 credits).

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 30, 2017