NFYK14018U Computational astrophysics: star and planet formation

Volume 2014/2015

Introduction to computational methods used in star- and planet formation research, with relevance to the 2009-2019 DNRF-financed research center STARPLAN ( Particularly in focus in this course are new and revolutionary possibilities to model star- and planet formation on supercomputers. To be able to construct and analyze such models requires a basic understanding of gas dynamics, gravitational collapse, and radiative energy transfer. The method-goal of this course is to give students the necessary basic knowledge in this connection; including introducing the most common concepts and key-words; free-fall time, dynamic time, Reynolds number, Stokes number, Alfvén speed, optical depth, spectral synthesis, etc. The course exercises introduce and illustrate these concepts, and give a “hands-on” feeling for how and in what context they are used.

Learning Outcome


  • Modeling the dynamics of the interstellar medium
  • Modeling gravitational collapse
  • Solving the radiation transfer equation
  • Using radiative transfer in connection with analysis and modeling of observations
  • Modeling dust dynamics and gas-dust interaction
  • Reporting on current theories and models of star and planet formation.

The student will come to know the fundamental equations that govern astrophysical gas dynamics, including radiative energy transfer and coupled gas-dust dynamics. In addition the student will achieve knowledge of the basic computational techniques used in the modeling of star and planet formation, including the principles of the adaptive mesh refinement technique for computer modeling.

The course gives basic competences in numerical modeling, with particular focus on applications aimed at understanding star and planet formation. The course will establish a foundation for a M.Sc. project in computational astrophysics.

The Formation of Stars, Steven W. Stahler, Francesco Palla, ISBN 3-527-40559-3.Wiley-VCH January 2005 (mandatory)
Selected research papers (web and/or handout material)

Bachelor courses: "Galakser" and "Planetsystemer og stjernedannelse". The M.Sc. course The Interstellar Medium and Formation of Stars is recommended but not required
Lectures, exercises and projects work
the course is given every second year.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 30
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 92
  • Project work
  • 28
  • Theory exercises
  • 28
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
The exam consists of two parts:
The continuous part of the evaluation counts for 40% of the final grade.
The written 7-day report counts for 60% of the final grade.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
two internal examiners; the course responsible and an internal censor.
The re-exam consists of two parts: A 4-day report (Monday to Thursday) with an oral defense (Friday) counting for 60% of the grade. New exercise solutions can be handed in to cover the continuous part of the evaluation (40%) no later than 2 weeks before the start of the 4-day report.
Criteria for exam assesment

see learning outcome