FIS/05 - 6 CFU - 1° Semester

Teaching Staff


Learning Objectives

The course is aimed at providing the student the basic knowledge and the state of the art of some topics in Astrophysics: knowledge of the astronomical coordinate systems; knowledge of the instruments for astronomical observation; knowledge of the mechanisms of formation of stellar spectra; knowledge of the internal structure of stars and of the various phases of stellar evolution; knowledge of the Sun’s structure; knowledge of the galaxies structure; knowledge of the theories on formation and evolution of the Universe.

Course Structure

Teaching is based on lectures.

There are also some practical exercises aimed at learning some techniques used in astrophysics as well as guided visits to observational infrastructures of the INAF - Catania Astrophysical Observatory.

Detailed Course Content

1 - Introduction
Methodology of investigation in astrophysics - Distances scales and units - Tools for the observation of celestial bodies - Astronomical coordinates systems.
2 - The solar system and the extra-solar systems
Planets, satellites, minor bodies - Kepler's Laws - The extra-solar planets
3 - The stars
Stellar atmospheres: Formation of spectral lines - Equations of Boltzman and Saha - Stellar spectra
Stellar parameters: magnitude and brightness - Spectral classification of stars - Basic parameters of the stars - The Hertzprung-Russell diagram.
Internal Structure: The equations of stellar structure - Mass-luminosity Law - Nuclear fusion processes - Mechanisms of energy transport
Stellar evolution: The interstellar medium: structure and composition - The Jeans criterion for gravitational collapse and star formation - Main sequence phase - Evolution of the stars outside the main sequence - Final evolutionary stages - Planetary nebulae, novae and supernovae - White dwarfs, neutron stars and blacks holes.
4 - The Sun, a typical main-sequence star
Physical characteristics - Internal Structure - Photosphere, chromosphere, corona - Magnetic fields and dynamo mechanism - Solar activity (sunspots, faculae, prominences, flares, coronal mass ejections) - Solar Wind.
5 - Our Galaxy
Morphology, dynamics and physical characteristics of the Galaxy - Globular and open clusters - Stellar Populations.
6 - Galaxies
Morphological classification of galaxies - Physical characteristics and processes of galaxy formation - Clusters and superclusters.
7 - Cosmology
Observational cosmology: Hubble's law and the expansion of the universe - The cosmic microwave background. - Dark matter and dark energy.

Textbook Information

• Kutner M.L., Astronomy: a physical perspective, Cambridge University Press

• Shipman H.L., Introduzione all’astronomia, Zanichelli

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