an advanced course (10 credits)

at the Space Physics and Astronomy research unit, University of Oulu

The course period: January 10 – April 26, 2024

Lectures, exercise and practical sessions take place usually on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 14-16, see Peppi for detail. However, classes on Thursday will only occur when I announce them!

The course is lectured in English

Teacher: Vitaly Neustroev, MA 308, vitaly[-at-]neustroev.net



Course plan:

  • Stellar structure and evolution
  • Radiative processes
  • Stellar photospheres
  • Interstellar Medium
  • etc…

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



Textbook choice for this course is largely a matter of personal taste. I provide below a list of recommended books. Study them in parallel with the lectures.


Compulsory problems (return by the deadline). 5+ sets (30% of the final score).



  • Lecture 1: January 10: Introduction (What is Astrophysics and Theoretical Astrophysics? Astronomical units). Stars (Role of stars; Definition; What can we learn from observations?).
  • Lecture 2: January 11: Stars (Properties of stars; Stellar timeline; basic assumptions, mass conservation, hydrostatic equilibrium).
  • January 15: NO CLASS
  • January 17: NO CLASS
  • Lecture 3: January 18: Stars (Virial theorem. Timescales of stellar evolution. Conditions in stellar interiors).
  • Lecture 4: January 22: Stars (Energy generation. The equation of conservation of energy). Basics about radiative transfer (Specific intensity).
    Compulsory problems: Set 1 (return by January 29).
  • Lecture 5: January 24: Basics about radiative transfer (Radiation terms, specific intensity, interaction radiation – matter, parallel-ray radiative transfer equation, solution of the parallel-ray RTE)
  • January 25: NO CLASS
  • Lecture 6: January 29: Basics about radiative transfer (Mean Intensity, Flux, and K-integral. RTE in plane-parallel atmosphere. The temperature gradient for radiative transport).
  • Lecture 7: January 31: The equations of stellar structure and possible ways to solve them. Boundary conditions. Convection and conditions for its occurrence. Equation of state (EOS).
  • February 1: NO CLASS
  • Lecture 8: February 5: Solution of HW1. Lecture: the equations of stellar structure (EOS, degeneracy pressure, stellar opacity)
  • Lecture 9: February 7: Nuclear Energy Production (Basics on nuclear reactions, the binding energy, Quantum tunnelling, Reaction cross-section, the Gamow peak, Nuclear Reaction Rates, Electron shielding)
    Compulsory problems: Set 2 (return by February 19).
  • Lecture 10: February 12: Nuclear reactions in stellar interiors (Energy generation, PP-chains & CNO-cycle, Helium burning, Carbon burning and beyond, iron and heavier elements, Composition changes)
  • Lecture 11: February 14: Solution of the Equations of Stellar Structure (The stellar structure equations and how to solve them? Simple stellar models. Polytropic models. Lane-emden equation. Different relationships for polytropic stars. Chandrasekhar mass. Dynamical stability of stars)
    PDF (Updated on 15.02.2024)
  • Lecture 12: February 15: Stellar evolution codes. Schematic stellar evolution. Star formation.
  • Lecture 13: February 21: Star formation (cont). Identification of Young Stars. Pre-main sequence star evolution (the Hayashi track and the Henyey track).
  • Lecture 14: February 22: Main Sequence stars. Evolution of low-mass stars.
  • Lecture 15: February 26: Evolution of high-mass stars. The initial mass function.
  • February 28: Mid-term exam