Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Stars and Star Formation
Physics 441/541 --- Spring 2012

Course Information:

This is a combined undergraduate/graduate course on the structure and evolution of stars. The development of our understanding of stars was one of the greatest successes of astrophysics in the 20th century and this understanding underlies most of our knowledge of the universe. However, some uncertainties remain. Examples are the synthesis of the elements, the structure of rapidly rotating stars, the evolution of interacting binary stars, and the formation of the first stars in the universe. This course begins with the properties of stars and how these are determined. It will then cover topics in stellar structure and evolution. Junior-level courses in atomic physics and electromagnetism are prerequisites for this course.

Professor: Tad Pryor, 302W Physics & Astronomy Bldg, 732-445-5500 x5462, pryor 'at'
Time: TF 12:00 - 1:20 PM
Location: ARC 203, Busch Campus
Office Hour: Thursday 3:00 - 4:30 PM. Alternatively, call or email for an appointment.
Text: The Physics of Stars, 2nd edition by A. C. Phillips, Cambridge University Press

Image: The bright star Regulus and the Leo I dwarf galaxy, courtesy of the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Regulus is a nearby (24.3+-0.2 pc), naked-eye (V=1.39), main-sequence (B8 IV) star whose location only one third of a degree from Leo I in the sky considerably complicates observations of the faint stars in that galaxy (the brightest have V=19.5), which is a satellite of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Regulus ia rotating so rapidly that it is significantly flattened and part of a multiple star system. Radial velocity variations show that it is orbited by a white dwarf (only discovered in 2008!) and the reddish star to the lower left of it in the image is gravitationally bound to Regulus since it has the same mean radial velocity and proper motion. The reddish star is itself a binary (K2V + M4V). Leo I is an example of a low-luminosity (M_V = -11.9) dwarf spheroidal galaxy. Its distance of 250 kpc makes it one of the most distant satellites of the Milky Way and there is controversy over whether it is actually bound to our Galaxy. It has an extended star formation history, with the rate of star formation peaking about 3 Gyrs ago. There is no star formation in the galaxy today.


Class Calendar

The calendar gives an approximate schedule for the lectures and reading.

Current Course News

The final exam will be held in ARC 203 (the classroom) on Thursday, May 3, from 1:30 - 3:00 PM. It will be closed book and notes, but you can bring one sheet of notes. Bring a calculator, but I will supply any physical constants that you need. The test will cover chapters 3.2, 3.3, 4 and 5 of Phillips and homeworks 6-9. I will not explicitly ask questions about material from before the midterm, but you cannot completely forget that material either.


Lecture Slides

Please send any comments on this page to pryor 'at'

Revised May 1, 2012