PX28215 Stars and the Solar System
Introductory description
Our sky is dominated by the Sun and the Moon, the planets and stars, as well as occasional spectacular events that are associated with eclipses, comets, meteorites and supernovae. These objects are bright enough to be visible to the naked eye  they have been the subject of wonder and study for thousands of years. In this module, we will see how modern observations and advanced space probes are changing our knowledge of stars and Solar System objects. Our physical understanding is advancing rapidly and providing us with a basis for the exploration of exoplanetary systems and the more distant Universe.
Module aims
To describe and explain the key physical properties of stars and Solar System objects, and to explain how these properties are observed.
Outline syllabus
This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.
Fundamental properties of stars, spectral classification and the HR diagram. The Sun as a star.
The physical structure of the stellar interiors: basic equations, nuclear energy production, mass/radius/luminosity relations.
Stellar formation and evolution, including mass loss and stellar remnants (white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes).
Stellar atmospheres: where does the light that we observe originate? Interaction between radiation and matter, radiation transfer. Stellar spectra across the HR diagram.
Solar activity and the solar atmosphere: photosphere, chromosphere, corona. The solar cycle, sunspots, solar flares and the solar wind.
Constituents of the Solar System. Definition of a planet. Fundamental properties of key Solar System objects.
The motion of the planets. Keplerian orbits, the threebody problem, resonances, tides and rotation.
The terrestrial planets. Interiors, surfaces, atmospheres and magnetospheres of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and the Moon. The greenhouse effect, why are Earth and Venus so different? Origin of water. Atmospheric escape.
The giant planets. Composition, interior structure, atmospheres and magnetospheres. Moons and rings.
Dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Asteroids, meteorites, Kuiper Belt Objects and comets.
Formation of the planets. Nebular hypothesis, protoplanetary disc, coreaccretion scenario.
The habitability of Solar System objects and the potential for extraterrestrial life.
Exoplanetary systems: discovery, characterisation and the habitable zone.
Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
 Identify the main features of the HertzsprungRussell diagram (HR diagram)
 Describe radiation processes influencing the spectra of stars
 Explain the physical principles controlling the internal structure and evolution of stars
 Describe and explain the motion of Solar System objects
 Compare the interior, surface and atmospheric properties of Solar System objects and explain how differences are thought to have arisen
 Describe Solar/stellar activity and explain its effect on planetary atmospheres
 Outline the physical processes by which stars and planets are thought to form
Indicative reading list
An introduction to modern astrophysics Book by Bradley W. Carroll; Dale A. Ostlie 2007
An introduction to the theory of stellar structure and evolution Book by Dina Prialnik c2010
Fundamental planetary science: physics, chemistry and habitability Book by Jack Jonathan Lissauer; Imke De Pater 2019
View reading list on Talis Aspire
Subject specific skills
Knowledge of mathematics and physics. Skills in modelling, reasoning, thinking.
Transferable skills
Analytical, communication, problemsolving, selfstudy
Study time
Type  Required 

Lectures  40 sessions of 1 hour (27%) 
Private study  110 hours (73%) 
Total  150 hours 
Private study description
Working through lecture notes, solving problems, revising for exams, practising on past exam papers
Costs
No further costs have been identified for this module.
You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.
Assessment group B
Weighting  Study time  

Inperson Examination  100%  
Answer 4 questions

Feedback on assessment
Meeting with personal tutors, group feedback
Courses
This module is Core for:

UPXAF3F5 Undergraduate Physics with Astrophysics (BSc)
 Year 2 of F3F5 Physics with Astrophysics
 Year 2 of F3F5 Physics with Astrophysics
 Year 2 of UPXAF3FA Undergraduate Physics with Astrophysics (MPhys)
This module is Optional for:
 Year 2 of USTAG1G3 Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics (BSc MMathStat)

USTAGG14 Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics (BSc)
 Year 2 of GG14 Mathematics and Statistics
 Year 2 of GG14 Mathematics and Statistics
This module is Option list A for:

UPXAGF13 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc)
 Year 2 of GF13 Mathematics and Physics
 Year 2 of GF13 Mathematics and Physics

UPXAFG31 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (MMathPhys)
 Year 2 of GF13 Mathematics and Physics
 Year 2 of FG31 Mathematics and Physics (MMathPhys)
 Year 2 of FG31 Mathematics and Physics (MMathPhys)

UPXAF300 Undergraduate Physics (BSc)
 Year 2 of F300 Physics
 Year 2 of F300 Physics
 Year 2 of F300 Physics

UPXAF303 Undergraduate Physics (MPhys)
 Year 2 of F300 Physics
 Year 2 of F303 Physics (MPhys)
This module is Option list B for:
 Year 2 of UMAAG105 Undergraduate Master of Mathematics (with Intercalated Year)

UMAAG100 Undergraduate Mathematics (BSc)
 Year 2 of G100 Mathematics
 Year 2 of G100 Mathematics
 Year 2 of G100 Mathematics

UMAAG103 Undergraduate Mathematics (MMath)
 Year 2 of G100 Mathematics
 Year 2 of G103 Mathematics (MMath)
 Year 2 of G103 Mathematics (MMath)
 Year 2 of UMAAG106 Undergraduate Mathematics (MMath) with Study in Europe
 Year 2 of UMAAG1NC Undergraduate Mathematics and Business Studies
 Year 2 of UMAAG1N2 Undergraduate Mathematics and Business Studies (with Intercalated Year)
 Year 2 of UMAAGL11 Undergraduate Mathematics and Economics
 Year 2 of UECAGL12 Undergraduate Mathematics and Economics (with Intercalated Year)
 Year 2 of UMAAG101 Undergraduate Mathematics with Intercalated Year

USTAY602 Undergraduate Mathematics,Operational Research,Statistics and Economics
 Year 2 of Y602 Mathematics,Operational Research,Stats,Economics
 Year 2 of Y602 Mathematics,Operational Research,Stats,Economics