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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: PHY3026 Module Title: NUCLEAR ASTROPHYSICS
Module Provider: Physics Short Name: PH3-NA
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: PODOLYAK Z Dr (Physics)
Number of credits: 10 Number of ECTS credits: 5
Module Availability

Module Availability:


Semester 1


Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)






Qualifying Condition(s) 


University general regulations refer.


Module Overview

The module explains how nuclei are synthesised in the Universe. Different processes, such as the burning phase, r, p, n, are discussed. The relevance of nuclear physics and the ways to measure the relevant quantities are covered in the course.





Module Aims

To ensure that the student has a clear understanding of the information needed from nuclear physics to understand processes in stars, and how to measure the relevant quantities.


Learning Outcomes

The student should be able to explain and show knowledge of the fundamentals of fusion burning in stars including phenomena such as quantum tunnelling through the Coulomb barrier and the effect of temperature on stellar reaction rates.  This should be demonstrated in the ability to perform the examination questions to the required standard.


Module Content

The aim of this module is to examine in detail the nuclear processes of importance in stellar evolution, to discuss the factors which influence these processes and the methods used to measure them.



Nuclear Fusion in Stars


Review of nuclear fusion, Q-values, Eb/A


Sources of nuclear energy



H and He Burning


Hydrogen burning, D and 3He Burning


8Be(a, g)12C, 0/sup>, 7.654 MeV resonance


C-N, C-N-O cycles, Hot CNO cycle, NeNA and MgAl cycles


Carbon, oxygen, neon and silicon burning


Heavy Elements


Elemental abundances






Neutron capture cross-sections


The s-process, r-process and the p-process


General Characteristics of Thermo-nuclear Reactions


Cross-sections, reaction rates, lifetimes


S(E)-factor, Sommerfeld parameter


Temperature dependence, inverse reactions


Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distribution


Determination of Stellar Reaction Rates


Neutron induced reactions


Charged particle induced reactions


Reactions through resonances


Experimental Nuclear Astrophysics


Radiative capture reactions


Measurements of cross-section


Ion sources, accelerators, Van De Graaffs


Inverse reactions with radio-active beams



Topical Problems


Production/detection of solar neutrinos


Low abundance of light elements Li, Be and B


Methods of Teaching/Learning

24 hours of lectures/tutorials.


Selected Texts/Journals

i.                C.Iliade, Nuclear Physics of Stars, Wiley.


ii.              A C Phillips, The Physics of Stars, John Wiley & Sons.


iii.             C Rolfs and C A Barnes, Radiative Capture Reactions in Nuclear Astrophysics, Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science 40, 1990, p45.


iv.            B W Carroll and D A Osterlie, An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, Addison-Wesley.


v.              K S Krane , Introductory Nuclear Physics, Wiley.


Last Updated

August 2010.