Astronomy 643: Astrophysics of Stars and Stellar Populations

Professor: Daniel Wang

Office: 517G LGRT
Phone: 545-2131

Class Time: 2:30-3:45
Room: 1334

This graduate course is required for the Ph.D. degree in astronomy. The course is designed to introduce the theory of stellar structure and evolution and its application to the stellar population study, stressing the basic underlying physics. Topics include gravitational equilibrium configurations, virial theorem, polytropes, thermodynamics, convective and radiative transport,  nuclear reactions and energy generation, pre-main-sequence contraction, evolution to red giant, white dwarf, and neutron star, supernova explosions, stellar atmospheres, and population synthesis, as well as links to observations.

The course web address can be found at

Tentative Schedule:

Feb. 2, 4 HKT 1-2
Equation of state
Feb. 9, 11, 16
Radiative and heat transfer Feb 18, 23, 25
HKT 4 and 5
Stellar energy source
Mar  2, 4, 9
Stellar modeling
Mar 11, 16
Stellar evolution Mar 18, 23, 25, 30
SC 4-7 and HKT 2, 9.1-9.2, 10.1-10.2
Binary evolution
Apr 1

From theory to observations
Apr  6
SC 8
Simple stellar population
Apr  8, 13 SC 9
Composite stellar population
Apr 15, 22
SC 10
Unresolved stellar population
Apr 27, 29
SC 11
Student presentation
May 4


There will be about 4-5 homework assignments.

Reading Materials:

The first text for the class is Stellar Interiors: Physical Principles, Structure and Evolution by C. Hansen, S. Kawaler, & V. Trimble (HKT) 2004. ISBN: 0-387-20089-4.  This textbook focuses exclusively on stellar interiors. 

The second text is Evolution of Stars and Stellar Populations by Maurizio Salaris and Santi Cassisi (SC) 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0470092200; A free ebook copy may be obtained here.

Additional textbooks:

Review papers:

Class Format:

Class will be partly in the format of student-led discussion as well as lectures. Students must read the entire assignment before coming to class. During the lecture, we will discuss the questions you have about the lecture topic. Please email your questions by Wednesday to me ( so that they can be considered for the Thursday lectures. In your email, please use "SSE" as subject, and mention at the beginning of your question and the corresponding subsection of the lecture notes. Note that your class preparation grade will be based largely on the quality and number of your questions.