Astrophysics of Interacting Binary Stars

an advanced course (5 credits)

at the Astronomy research unit, University of Oulu

The course period: October 30 – December 20, 2017

Lectures, exercise and practical sessions take place usually on Monday and Wednesday at 14-16, see WebOODI for detail.

The course is lectured in English

Teacher: Vitaly Neustroev, MA 302, vitaly[-at-]neustroev.net

Course content:

The course will provide the necessary understanding of the physics of binary stars with black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs, mass-transfer, chemistry and the importance of binary stars and populations of binaries to modern astrophysics.

Theoretical and practical considerations will be supplemented with the home exercises which constitute the important part of the course.


  • Interacting Binary Stars (1985) – Edited by J.E. Pringle and R.A. Wade / CUP. ISBN 0 521 26608 4.
  • Cataclysmic Variable Stars (2003) – Brian Warner / CUP. ISBN 0 521 54209 X.
  • Accretion Power in Astrophysics (3rd edition, 2003) – J. Frank, A. King and D. Raine / CUP. ISBN 0 521 62957 8.
  • Cataclysmic Variable Stars – How and Why They Vary (2001) – Coel Hellier / Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 1852332115.
  • I will also give references to original papers where useful.


  • Lecture 1: October 30: Introduction: Binary Stars and Fundamental Stellar Parameters


  • Lecture 2: November 06: How does mass transfer occur? Roche lobe and Roche-Lobe overflow. Accretion Disks. Formation of an Accretion Disk, Tidal limitations.


  • Lecture 3: November 08: Boundary layer, Bright spot, Stream-Disk overflow. Energetics of accretion. Accretion disk properties.


  • Lecture 4: November 13: The angular momentum problem. Viscous accretion disks.

    PDF * HomeWork 1

  • Lecture 5: November 15: Existence of Accretion Disks in Close Binary Systems. Cataclysmic Variables (CVs). Classification of CVs.

    PDF * Link to FITDisk

  • Lecture 6: November 20: CVs: Distribution of Orbital Periods. Observational evidence for accretion disks in CVs. Light curves of eclipsing CVs. Eclipse analysis. Eclipse Mapping.

    PDF * HomeWork 2

  • Lecture 7: November 22: Spectroscopy: Emission line profiles. Trailed spectra. Doppler Tomography. Emission lines from winds.

    PDF * Paper 1 * Paper 2 * Paper 3 * Paper 4