NFYK14017U  Astronomical spectra

Volume 2014/2015

The interaction between radiation and matter. The stellar atmosphere. Formation of the stellar spectrum. The physics behind simple molecular spectra. Numerical models for the formation of stellar spectra. Origin of the emission from cold gas and dust in giant molecular clouds, star-forming regions and protoplanetary disks. Radiative transfer with specific applications in the far-infrared and millimeter wavelength regime. Continuum processes in high energy astrophysics: bremsstrahlung, synchrotron and inverse Compton radiation. Spectra of the dominant sources in the high energy sky: stars, X-ray binaries, supernova remnants, pulsars, active galaxies, galaxy clusters, gamma-ray bursts.

Learning Outcome


Knowledge:The student must demonstrate:


  • a deep understanding of the mechanisms behind the interaction between matter and radiation, and how this interaction results in a spectrum.
  • knowledge of what determines the structure of a stellar atmosphere, and how it is calculated.
  • an understanding of the fundamental physics behind spectral transitions in atoms and molecules.
  • an appreciation of the objects that dominate the high energy sky, how their spectra appear and understand what physical processes underlie the formation of their spectra.
  • a superior knowledge of the origin of continuum and line emission from cold gas and dust, for example, in star forming regions and protoplanetary disks, and an understanding of how long wavelength observations can constrain the distribution and physical conditions in such regions

An understanding of how astrophysical spectra occur.
The ability to interpret such spectra and understand the underlying physical processes. An appreciation of how celestial sources appear across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Spectroscopy is the most powerful tool in astrophysics, providing detailed and precise information at the nuclear, atomic and molecular levels. The aim of the course is to give an understanding of what information we can extract from the spectra of astrophysical sources and how.

D.Emerson, Interpreting Astronomical Spectra, John Wiley and Sons (1997) ISBN 0471976792

Lectures, tutorials, calculating and computer exercises.
the course is given every second year.
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
Oral exam graded on the 7-scale, internal censor, 30 minutes for each exam. The exam will be based on questions made known to the students a month before the exam. The exam will be in English.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assesment

see learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 30
  • Exercises
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 0,5
  • Preparation
  • 145,5
  • Total
  • 206,0