The theory of stellar structure and evolution is elegant and impressively powerful. Bringing together all branches of physics, it is able to predict how the complex internal structure of stars changes from their birth to their death, what nuclear fuel stars burn, and what their ultimate fate is - a fading white dwarf, or a cataclysmic explosion as a supernova, leaving behind a collapsed neutron star or a black hole. This lucid textbook provides students with a clear and pedagogical introduction to stellar structure and evolution. It requires only basic physics and mathematics learned in first- and second-year undergraduate studies, and it assumes no prior knowledge of astronomy.
Beginning with what is known about stars from observations, the theory of stellar evolution is then laid out mathematically and the basic physics related to the structure of stars is reviewed. Next, nucleosynthesis, simple stellar models, and the principles of stability are introduced, leading to a schematic picture of stellar evolution as a whole.This model is then developed further, bringing in what scientists have learned from computer simulations, and comparing the results with more detailed observations of main-sequence stars like the Sun, red giants, planetary nebulae, and white dwarfs. The exotic and often spectacular final stages of many stars - supernovae, pulsars, and black holes - are treated next. Finally, a global picture of the stellar evolutionary cycle is presented.
The unique feature of this book is the emphasis it places, throughout, on the basic physical principles governing stellar evolution. The processes are always explained in the simplest terms, while maintaining full mathematical rigor. Exercises and full solutions are also included to help students test their understanding. This textbook provides a stimulating introduction for undergraduates in astronomy, physics, planetary science, and applied mathematics who are taking a course on the physics of stars.
- an ideal introductory textbook for undergraduates in astronomy, physics, planetary science, and applied mathematics
- focuses on fundamental principles - explained in simple terms, but with full mathematical rigor
- clear and methodical explanations
- includes problems and full solutions
- shows how fundamental physics can be applied to solving real physical problems
- requires only basic undergraduate physics and mathematics and no prior knowledge of astronomy