Stars and Planetary Systems module (PH41008)

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In this module, you will deepen your knowledge gained in the introductory PH12003 Space Physics and Astronomy module and cover the areas of stars and planetary systems, advancing your understanding of classical models and the most recent observations.  

In astrophysics, observations are the only experimental information we can gather about stars and their planets. You will explore how radiation interacts with matter, which is crucial to understand observational astrophysics and 'how we know what we know' about stars. 

You will learn about the atmospheres of stars, nuclear processes in stellar interiors, stellar evolution and lifecycles, where planets are born (protoplanetary discs), how planets form, and how planetary systems evolve.  

Topics include: 

  • Understanding how photometry and spectroscopy can be used to derive the properties of stars, such as temperature and radius. 

  • The physics of the formation and evolution of stars of different masses, including the stellar lifecycle, the balance between gravity and radiation pressure over the stellar lifetime, energy generation, and the role of nuclear fusion and stellar evolution in the formation of heavy elements in the Universe. 

  • The observational properties of protoplanetary discs and how they evolve. Models of discs and how they place constraints on the formation and dynamics of planets.  

  • The properties of the Solar System and extrasolar planets. 

  • The formation of Earth-like rocky planets and Jupiter-like gaseous planets are formed.  

  • The dynamical evolution of planetary systems. 


This module is available on following courses: