First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SCP7081738, A.A. 2017/18

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2017/18

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
SC2382, Degree course structure A.Y. 2017/18, A.Y. 2017/18
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Degree course track PHYSICS OF THE UNIVERSE [003PD]
Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination RELATIVISTIC ASTROPHYSICS
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Physics and Astronomy
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction English

Teacher in charge ROBERTO TUROLLA FIS/05

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses FIS/05 Astronomy and Astrophysics 6.0

Mode of delivery (when and how)
Period Second semester
Year 1st Year
Teaching method frontal

Organisation of didactics
Type of hours Credits Hours of
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 6.0 48 102.0 No turn

Start of activities 26/02/2018
End of activities 01/06/2018

Prerequisites: Classical electrodynamics, special relativity, general astronomy and astrophysics
Target skills and knowledge: The course aims at providing the student with an updated view of theory and observations of Galactic compact X-ray sources
Examination methods: Oral examination
Assessment criteria: The oral examination aims at verifying to which extent the student knows the basic issues in relativistic astrophysics and his/her capacity of working with them.
Course unit contents: Compact objects. Late stages of stellar evolution, core-collapse supernovae. White dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes.

General relativity. The vacuum Schwarzschild solution and its properties. Geodesic motion in the Schwarzschild spacetime. Interior Schwarzschild solution, hydrostatic equilibrium configurations, the Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff equation. The Kerr solution (basics).

Degenerate systems. Quantum statistics (brief overview). Equation of state for a completely degenerate gas; the non-relativistic and ultra-relativistic limits. The Chandrasekhar mass.

Matter-radiation interaction. The radiation field. Emission, absorption and scattering. The radiative transfer equation. Optical depth. Simple solutions to the transfer equation: radiative diffusion and free streaming. Radiative processes: electron scattering and free-free. The Eddington limit.

Accretion onto compact objects. Spherical accretion, the Bondi-Hoyle solution. Compact objects in bynary systems. The Roche lobe geometry. Wind- and Roche lobe-fed accretion. Accretion discs. The standard disc model (alpha-disc). Radiation spectrum from an alpha-disc.

Neutron stars. Magnetic field and rotation. Magneto-rotational braking and the period evolution. Estimate of the magnetic field and of the age from the period and the period derivative. The P-Pdot diagram. Magnetosphere, light cylinder. Goldreich-Julian currents. The Alfven radius, column accretion onto magnetized neutron stars. Internal structure of a neutron star. Neutronization. Neutron star cooling. Neutrino cooling, URCA and modified URCA. Radiative cooling. Cooling curves.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Classrooms with worked exercises and examples
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Nobili, L., Astrofisica Relativistica. Padova: CLEUP, 2000. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Frank, J., King, A.R., Raine, D.J., Accretion power in astrophysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Rybicki, G.B, Lightman, A.P., Radiative processes in astrophysics. New York: Wiley, 1985. Cerca nel catalogo