(12/5): All notes and HW solutions posted, grades updated up to project


Homework 1 Due 10/4 [Solutions]

Homework 2 Due 10/11 [Solutions]
Appendix F data:
[ascii] [excei] [word]
Appendix G data:
[ascii] [excei] [word]

Homework 3 Due 10/18 [Solutions]

Homework 4 Due 10/25 [Solutions]

Homework 5 Due 11/8 [Solutions]

Homework 6 Due 11/15 [Solutions]

Homework 7 Due 11/22 [Solutions] Bahcall 2001 Solar Data: [ascii] [excel]


Lecture 1: Course Logistics and Motivation (9/26)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 2: Stellar distance scales and astrometry (10/1)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 3: Proper motion, kinematics & magnitude scale (10/3)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 4: Blackbody radiation & HR Diagram (10/8)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 5: LTE, Basic Radiative Transfer, Source of Opacity (10/10)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 6: Line Profiles, Boltzmann & Saha Equations (10/15)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 7: Hydrostatic Equilibrium, Equation of State (10/17)

Lecture 8: Stellar energy sources, particle physics primer, fusion and the pp chain (10/22)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 9: Nuclear reaction rates and polytrope models (10/24)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 10: Energy transport (10/29)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 11: The Sun (11/5)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 12: Magnetic Fields and Star Formation Sites (11/7)
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 13: The ISM, Jean's Collapse and Homologous Collapse (11/12)
Note: error on cloud densities and Jean's mass coefficient corrected in notes
[PDF] [YouTube]

Lecture 14: Halting Fragmentation, Disks & Jets, the Initial Mass Function (11/14)

Lecture 15: Stellar Evolution I: Evolution Along the Main Sequence and Stellar Ages (11/20)

Lecture 16: Stellar Evolution II: Post Main Sequence Evolution (11/21)

Lecture 17: Stellar Evolution III: Stellar End States and White Dwarfs (11/26)

Lecture 18: Stellar Evolution IV: Degenerate Matter and the Chandrasekhar Limit (12/3)

Lecture 19: Stellar Evolution V: White Dwarf Collapse and Type Ia SN; Neutron Stars (12/5)

contact info

Prof. Adam Burgasser
SERF 340
Office hours: Th 10am-12pm or by appt.

Ms. Petia Yanchulova
SERF 434
Office hours M & W 3-4pm

Course manager:
Ms. Patti Hey
MHA 2571

Welcome to the Physics 160: Stellar Astrophysics course webpage. This course introduces you to the physics that governs the stars, and covering basic astronomical quantities, the physical characteristics of stars, stellar atmospheres and spectroscopy, stellar interiors, star formation and evolution, and the products of stellar death. We will also examine our nearest star, the Sun, and low-mass stars and brown dwarfs in detail. Stellar astrophysics draws from particle, nuclear and quantum physics; fluid dynamics; electromagnetic radiation; classical mechanics and general relativity. The goal of this course is to improve your proficiency of these fields while familiarizing you with our current theoretical and observational understanding of stars.


We will be using Carroll & Ostlie, An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, 2nd ed. (ISBN 0-8053-0402-9). Here is a list of the chapter contents; we'll be covering Chapters 1-15. The chapter numbers indicated in the syllabus refer to this text, and homework problems may be drawn partly from this text.


Homeworks (30%): Seven (7) assignments during the quarter; your lowest grade will be dropped. Assignments will be posted on the Thursday Friday preceding the covered material and be due the following Friday at 5:00pm (turn it in to the box in front of my office, SERF 340). Late homeworks will be accepted up to Monday at 5:00pm with a 50% penalty. You may work together on these assignments but you may not use prior or online solutions, and the work you turn in must be your own.

Midterm Exam (20%): A midterm exam will be held in-class on Thursday October 31st, covering material through week 5 (see course information sheet for syllabus). There is no final exam.

Term Project (30%): The term project will be drawn from a sample of primary sources that span the topics covered in the course. A completed project consists of:

  1. An outline and list of references (including primary sources) due at the beginning of lecture on Thursday November 14th (5%),
  2. A 5-10 page project paper, including figures and bilbliography, due at the beginning of lecture on Thursday December 5th (15%), and
  3. A 5-7 minute presentation during our "final exam" on Thursday December 12th, 3-6pm in WLH 2207 (10%)
Details of the term study will be posted in the course documents.

Observing Lab (10%): We will have one local lab with small telescopes on Wednesday 10/23 7-9pm Monday 10/28 7-9pm at the Torrey Pines Gliderport TBD and one remote lab with the Nickel 1m telescope during the quarter. You are required to attend both to get full credit.

Participation (10%): This will be assessed based on contributions in the class and recitation, and in-class writing exercises.

Course Calendar