The 20th century has seen a comprehensive revolution in our understanding of stars. A century ago they were a subject of ignorance and paradox; now in many respects they are understood. We shall explore their structure and evolution, and how stars interact with their environment.
Our understanding of the stars is largely the product of the new physics uncovered in this century, and is one of its greatest success stories. It will give us a chance to study some important cases in which 20th century physics unveals astounding and surprising new processes of the stars.
Our text will be a very readable work by Lawrence Aller, Atoms, Stars and Nebulae, supplemented by exercises and suggested readings from Universe by William Kaufmann and Roger Freedman.
There will be a weekly reading of about 25 pages from Aller, plus about a half-dozen, usually simple writing or calculational exercises. Grading will consist of 50% weekly exercises, 25% final exam, 15% midterm exam and 10% class participation. The lowest three exercise grades (10% of the course grade) or the equivalent on the exams will be dropped in computing the final grade.
None. The level of mathematics required is basic algebra, which we will use extensively. THE STUDENT IS URGED TO BE REALISTIC IN JUDGING WHETHER THEIR MASTERY OF ALGEBRA AND GEOMETRY ARE SUFFICIENT AND FRESH IN THEIR MIND.
Course Syllabus and Assignments
Required texts:Atoms, Stars and Nebulae (3rd edition) by Lawrence H. Aller (1991, Cambridge University Press, available for $39.95 in the Columbia University Bookstore. ISBN 0-521-31040-7, paperback, 366 pages).
Recommended texts:Universe by William J. Kaufmann, III and Roger A. Freedman (1998, W.H. Freeman, available for $69.35 in the Columbia University Bookstore. ISBN 0-7167-28265, paperback, 823 pages w/ CD ROM).
Columbia University home page.
1998 September 2