Class Notes

Homework & Project


CSI 661 / ASTR 530 - Spring 2011

Prof. Jie Zhang
corona magnetic field

Home (Last Modified: Jan. 24, 2011)

Syllabus (print version in PDF)

PHYS 303 (Classical Mechanics), PHYS 305 (Electromagnetic Theory), PHYS 308 (Modern Physics with Applications); MATH 214 (Elementary Differential Equations

Credits:  3

Data and Time: 4:30 PM to 7:10 PM,  Wednesday                                          
Location: Room 302, Research Building I

Instructors:     Prof. Jie Zhang
Contact Info:
 (703)993-1998 (phone),  jzhang7@gmu.edu (e-mail)
Office Hour:    3:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Wednesday, or by appointment
Office:               Room 351, Research Bldg 1


Content:  The general purpose of this course is a survey of contemporary astrophysics. Topics include physical concepts, stellar spectra, Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, stellar atmospheres, stellar structure, interstellar matter, stellar evolution, high-energy phenomena, hydrodynamical processes in astrophysics, accretion disk formation, and shock formation. In this semester, the class will focus on stellar structure and evolution, and stellar atmosphere.


  • Overview of Stellar Evolution
  • Preliminary Physical Processes
  • Equations of State
  • Radiative Heat Transfer
  • Conductive Heat Transfer
  • Convective Heat Transfer
  • Stellar Energy Sources
  • Stellar Modeling
  • Structure and Evolution of the Sun
  • Stellar Atmosphere: the Background
  • Radiation Terms and Definitions, and Blackbody Radiation
  • Continuous and  Line Absorption Coefficient
  • Model Photosphere

Homework: There will be weekly assignment of homework. Each homework consists of 2 to 5 questions.     

Project:  There will be one project, which is to use the numerical method to solve the physical equations, in order to fully model the structure of the star of a given mass. Students are expected to make an oral presentation on the results of the project.

Exams: one midterm and one comprehensive final exam

Grades:  Homework (25%), Projects (25%), Midterm (20%), Final Exam (30%)

Class URL:  http://solar.gmu.edu/teaching/2011_CSI661/

Text Book (required):                

  • “Physical Principles, Structure and Evolution”. by C.J. Hansen, S.D. Kawaler and V. Trimble, 2nd edition, Springer-Verlag,  2004. ISBN 978-0-387-20089-7

Supplement Reference Books:

  •  Stellar Atmosphere: The Observation and Analysis of Stellar Photospheres”. By David F. Gray. Third Edition, Cambridg Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-06681-6