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Astronomy 201a (Fall 2014): Stellar Astrophysics

Instructor: Steven R. Cranmer   (email, web page)
Instructor's Office:   P-347 at 60 Garden Street, Phone: 617-495-7271
Teaching Fellow: Yuan-Sen Ting   (email, web page)
TF's Office: P-205 at 60 Garden Street, Phone: 617-496-7561
Course Times:     Fall 2014, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30-4:00 pm
Location: Classroom, A-101 (at 60 Garden Street)
Office Hours: By appointment, or drop in (most days, 10:30-5:00)
Syllabus: See the most up-to-date PDF version.


Stars are the basic building blocks of the universe, and they are responsible for the production of most elements via nucleosynthesis. This course covers the energy generation and transport in stars, stellar atmospheres and radiative transfer, stellar evolution, and asteroseismology. The Sun and its heliosphere are also studied as the closest and best-studied examples of a star and its circumstellar plasma. This course will occasionally touch on topics in planetary astrophysics, especially in areas where the boundary lines between stars, brown dwarfs, and planets are somewhat ambiguous. The official Harvard "iSites" web page for this course is HERE.


HERE is a detailed schedule listing the material to be covered in each lecture, links to electronic copies of the handouts, lecture notes, and problem sets, and various course deadlines.


Primary textbook: The Fundamentals of Stellar Astrophysics, by George W. Collins (originally published by WH Freeman in 1989; revised online edition published 2003). Available in full online at ADS, but the PDF version occasionally contains garbled mathematics. See also more about it at other sites such as HOLLIS, Amazon, and Google Books.

I've written a brief reading guide to Collins' textbook that goes through each section and summarizes how important each will be to this course.

Secondary resources: I've assembled some good textbook-level lecture notes from other courses. For the first two-thirds of the course (stellar interiors and evolution), I highly recommend downloading Onno Pols' lecture notes on Stellar Structure and Evolution from the above link.

I've also assembled some miscellaneous data files, help documents, and short instructions that you may find useful. There is also a short list of links to guidelines and reference documents for the term project/paper.