An Introduction to the Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution / Edition 1

An Introduction to the Theory of Stellar Structure and Evolution / Edition 1

by Dina Prialnik
     
 

Using fundamental physics, the theory of stellar structure and evolution can predict how stars are born, how their complex internal structure changes, what nuclear fuel they burn, and their ultimate fate. This textbook is a stimulating Introduction for students of astronomy, physics, and applied mathematics, taking a course on the physics of stars. It uniquely

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Overview

Using fundamental physics, the theory of stellar structure and evolution can predict how stars are born, how their complex internal structure changes, what nuclear fuel they burn, and their ultimate fate. This textbook is a stimulating Introduction for students of astronomy, physics, and applied mathematics, taking a course on the physics of stars. It uniquely emphasizes the basic physical principles governing stellar structure and evolution.

This second edition contains two new chapters on mass loss from stars and interacting binary stars, and new exercises. Clear and methodical, it explains the processes in simple terms, while maintaining mathematical rigour. Starting from general principles, this textbook leads students step-by-step to a global, comprehensive understanding of the subject. Fifty exercises and full solutions allow students to test their understanding. No prior knowledge of astronomy is required, and only a basic background in undergraduate physics and mathematics is necessary.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521659376
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
07/28/2000
Edition description:
Older Edition
Pages:
276
Product dimensions:
6.97(w) x 9.96(h) x 0.75(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
1Observational background and basic assumptions1
1.1What is a star?1
1.2What can we learn from observations?2
1.3Basic assumptions6
1.4The H-R diagram: a tool for testing stellar evolution9
2The equations of stellar evolution15
2.1Local thermodynamic equilibrium16
2.2The energy equation17
2.3The equation of motion19
2.4The virial theorem21
2.5The total energy of a star24
2.6The equations governing composition changes26
2.7The set of evolution equations29
2.8The characteristic timescales of stellar evolution30
3Elementary physics of gas and radiation in stellar interiors35
3.1The equation of state36
3.2The ion pressure38
3.3The electron pressure39
3.4The radiation pressure43
3.5The internal energy of gas and radiation44
3.6The adiabatic exponent45
3.7Radiative transfer48
4Nuclear processes that take place in stars53
4.1The binding energy of the atomic nucleus53
4.2Nuclear reaction rates56
4.3Hydrogen burning I: the p-p chain59
4.4Hydrogen burning II: the CNO bi-cycle62
4.5Helium burning: the triple-[alpha] reaction63
4.6Carbon and oxygen burning65
4.7Silicon burning: nuclear statistical equilibrium67
4.8Creation of heavy elements: the s- and r-processes68
4.9Pair production70
4.10Iron photodisintegration70
5Equilibrium stellar configurations - simple models72
5.1The stellar structure equations72
5.2What is a simple stellar model?73
5.3Polytropic models74
5.4The Chandrasekhar mass79
5.5The Eddington luminosity81
5.6The standard model82
5.7The point-source model86
6The stability of stars90
6.1Secular thermal stability90
6.2Cases of thermal instability92
6.3Dynamical stability95
6.4Cases of dynamical instability97
6.5Convection98
6.6Cases of convective instability101
6.7Conclusion104
7The evolution of stars - a schematic picture106
7.1Characterization of the (log T, log [rho]) plane107
7.2The evolutionary path of the central point of a star in the (log T, log [rho]) plane111
7.3The evolution of a star, as viewed from its centre115
7.4The theory of the main sequence118
7.5Outline of the structure of stars in late evolutionary stages124
7.6Shortcomings of the simple stellar evolution picture128
8The evolution of stars - a detailed picture131
8.1The Hayashi zone and the pre-main-sequence phase132
8.2The main-sequence phase138
8.3Solar neutrinos143
8.4The red giant phase146
8.5Helium burning in the core151
8.6Thermal pulses and the asymptotic giant branch155
8.7The superwind and the planetary nebula phase160
8.8White dwarfs - the final state of nonmassive stars164
8.9The evolution of massive stars170
8.10The H-R diagram: Epilogue173
9Exotic stars: supernovae, pulsars, and black holes176
9.1What is a supernova?176
9.2Supernova explosions - the fate of massive stars180
9.3Nucleosynthesis during supernova explosions184
9.4Supernova progenies: neutron stars - pulsars187
9.5Very massive stars and black holes191
9.6The luminosity of accretion and hard radiation sources192
10The stellar life cycle195
10.1The interstellar medium195
10.2Star formation196
10.3Stars, brown dwarfs, and planets199
10.4The initial mass function203
10.5The global stellar evolution cycle208
App. 1The equation of radiative transfer215
App. 2Solutions to all the exercises223
App. 3Physical and astronomical constants249
Bibliography251
Index255

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