PHYS2100 Stellar Astrophysics and Frontier Astronomy

6 points

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Not available in 2021UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Frontier Physics major sequence
Stars undergo a life cycle starting as proto-stars forming from clouds of gas and dust, though main- and post-main-sequence stars with active nuclear fusion in their cores, to their final state as white dwarfs, supernovae, neutron stars and/or black holes. Understanding these stellar-mass objects and their life cycle is a frontier area of astrophysics research, and their observational study utilises techniques and facilities at the frontiers of astronomy.

In this unit, students will learn about (1) the astrophysics of stellar evolution, stellar objects and black holes; and (2) the astronomy techniques used to observe these and other systems. Regarding stellar-mass objects, topics covered will include the stellar birth and evolution; nuclear fusion in stellar cores; stellar structure; degeneracy pressure; white dwarfs, neutron stars and pulsar; supernovae, accretion physics; the theorised and observed physical characteristics of stellar-mass black holes; and tests of general relativity using binary neutron stars and black holes. Regarding astronomy techniques, topics covered will include radiative processes in astrophysics; modern optical and radio-astronomy techniques, and gravitational astronomy using gravity-wave detectors. Students will conduct an individual astronomy project using advanced robotic telescopes to study stellar-mass objects, and a class-based project on muon physics which offers the potential to test relativistic effects such as time dilation using cosmic rays generated by stellar astrophysical processes.

The final part of the unit is an individual research assignment culminating in a draft scientific paper in a form suitable for submission to a refereed journal.
Students are able to (1) explain the physical principles underlying stellar astrophysics and astronomical techniques; (2) apply critical thinking skills to a range of astrophysical systems; (3) apply problem identification and mathematical techniques to solve problems in astrophysics; (4) demonstrate skills in measurement, experimental technique, quantitative analysis and data analysis relevant to astronomy and astrophysics; (5) demonstrate research skills relevant to the discipline of physics; and (6) write a scientific paper on a topic of interest in astronomy and astrophysics at the level of a draft paper for a scientific journal.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) in-semester tests and final examination; (2) project; and (3) research paper. Further information is available in the unit outline.

To pass this unit, a student must: (a) achieve an overall mark of 50 per cent or higher for the unit; and (b) achieve the requisite requirements(s) or a mark of 50 per cent or greater, whichever is higher and specified in the unit outline, for the project component.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Mr Matthew Young
Unit rules
PHYS1100 Classical and Frontier Physics (ID 7765) and PHYS1002 Modern Physics (ID 1422) and MATH1011 Multivariable Calculus (ID 6012) and MATH1012 Mathematical Theory and Methods (ID 6013)
PHYS2001 Quantum Physics and Electromagnetism (ID 1461) and (MATH2501 Advanced Mathematical Methods (ID 1000) or MATH3023 Advanced Mathematics Applications (ID 6149))
PHYS3003 Astrophysics and Space Science (ID 1476)
Contact hours
practical classes: 2 hours per week; project/lab work: 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.