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Unit of study_

OLET1638: Astronomy: from Stars to Black Holes

This unit of study explores the lives of the stars, leading some to explosive ends and the formation of a black hole. You will learn about the life cycle of a star from its birth in the interstellar medium to its fate as a stellar remnant - as a white dwarf, neutron star or perhaps a black hole. You will work with simulations to gain an appreciation and understanding of the methodology and techniques of modern astronomy, especially astronomical spectroscopy that allows us to measure the composition, physical state and motion of the stars. These measurements also reveal the extreme properties of stellar remnants. More recently, observations of gravitational waves have opened a new window on the universe, allowing us to study the merger of neutron stars. Our study of spectroscopic and gravitational wave observations of extreme environments will clearly illustrate how modern astronomy depends on advancing technology leading to new instrumentation and observational capabilities. The unit also includes opportunities for day and night observing sessions.

Code OLET1638
Academic unit Physics Academic Operations
Credit points 2

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Compare and contrast the basic observable properties of stars and how they are measured
  • LO2. Summarise the birth and evolutionary history of stars of various masses
  • LO3. Discuss the indigenous astronomy context for modern stellar astronomy
  • LO4. Carry out simulations to illustrate how spectra are used to determine properties of stars
  • LO5. Compare and contrast the characteristics of exotic stellar remnants - white dwarfs, neutron stars or black holes
  • LO6. Outline the significance of changing technology, in particular spectroscopy and gravitational wave observations, in observation of stars and stellar remnants
  • LO7. Carry out simple observations of the planets and stars using an optical telescope to illustrate the central role of observation in astronomy.