NFYK14018U Computational Astrophysics: Star and Planet Formation

Volume 2020/2021

MSc Programme in Physics

MSc Programme in Physics with a minor subject


The course gives an introduction to contemporary computational astrophysics, and covers both technical aspects, in particular efficient code development and parallelization, methods including fluid and particle dynamics, gravitational collapse, radiative energy transfer, and an overview of computational models for microphysical processes, such as cooling, heating, dust dynamics, and astrochemistry. The course exercises introduce and illustrate these concepts, and give a “hands-on” feeling for how and in what context they are used. During the course exercises the students will build a highly modular yet simple core program, which includes most of the methods covered in the lectures. 

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 modern astrophysics including the principles of adaptive mesh refinement techniques and particle methods.


The course gives basic competences in numerical modelling, and will establish a foundation for a M.Sc. project based on numerical modelling.

See Absalon for final course material. The following is an example of expected course literature.


P. Bodenheimer, G. P. Laughlin, M. Rozyczka, T. Plewa, H. W. Yorke: “Numerical Methods in Astrophysics”.  Complemented with lecture notes.

The student is expected to have followed courses on galaxies, stars and planets. It is recommended but not required that the student has followed an M.Sc. course on the interstellar medium and star formation.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Lectures, exercises and projects work
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 92
  • Theory exercises
  • 28
  • Project work
  • 28
  • Exam
  • 30
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Written assignment, 4 days
The exam consists of two parts:
The continuous part of the evaluation, wich consists of 2-3 exercises per week, counts for 70% of the final grade. The student must have turned in at least 60% of the weekly exercises.
A written 4-day report (Monday to Thursday) with an oral defense (Friday) counts for 30% 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 30% of the grade. New solutions to the weekly exercies can be handed in to cover the continuous part of the evaluation (70%) no later than 2 weeks before the start of the 4-day report.

Criteria for exam assesment

see learning outcome