ASP3012 - Stars and galaxies - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy

Chief examiner(s)

Professor John Lattanzio


Professor John Lattanzio

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


One of MTH2010 or MTH2015, plus MTH2032, or ENG2005 and MTH2040


Stellar photometry; observing the stars; star formation; equation of state; reduced equations of stellar structure; polytropic stellar models; full equations of stellar structure; the main sequence; post-main-sequence evolution. Galactic morphology and stellar content; elliptical and spiral galaxies; large-scale structure of the Milky Way; dark matter; potential theory; galactic dynamics-orbits in spherical and axisymmetric potentials. Astronomical data reduction.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Understand the nature of stars - their life histories, how they produce energy, how they synthesise the chemical elements, and their ultimate fates;
  2. Build a simple polytropic numerical stellar model;
  3. Distinguish and discuss different types of galaxies;
  4. Understand the relationships between stellar evolution, galactic evolution, and the creation of the elements;
  5. Model computationally the motion of stars in galaxies;
  6. Understand the implications of the observed nature of galaxies for theories of the universe;
  7. Describe the morphology and kinematics of the Milky Way;
  8. Understand the significance of dark matter to galactic structure;
  9. Understand the use of optical telescopes for data collection;
  10. Write an observational research report.


NOTE: From 1 July 2019, the duration of all exams is changing to combine reading and writing time. The new exam duration for this unit is 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Examination (3 hours): 60%

Assignments: 20%

Computer laboratories: 10%

Observation Report: 10%

Workload requirements

The workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours spread across the semester (roughly 12 hours per week) - approximately an even mixture of attendance at scheduled activities and self-scheduled study time. Learning activities comprise a mixture of instructor directed, peer directed and self-directed learning, which includes face-to-face and online engagement.

Note: the unit includes a commitment of about 3 hours of astronomical observing after hours (evening / night-time) using facilities at the Clayton campus, the exact timing of which is weather dependent.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study