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Astrophysical Gas Dynamics

A large number of phenomena in astrophysics (and in our everyday world!) can be described in terms of gas dynamics. The course gives a basic introduction to the equations that govern the physics of gases/fluids and it will discuss astrophysically relevant phenomena such as shocks or fluid instabilities.

NGC 6729
This very detailed enhanced-colour image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows the dramatic effects of very young stars on the dust and gas. Credit: ESO/Sergey Stepanenko

In this course you will study the basic equations that govern the dynamics of fluids. While involving many visually stunning phenomena, gas dynamics is governed by partial differential equations (PDEs) that are among the very first PDEs ever written down. You will gain a clear physical understanding of these equations and learn how they can be applied to explain phenomena such as sound waves, shocks or some cloud patterns. The majority of the course will be based on analytical techniques (but often illustrated by the results of numerical simulations) and will therefore require a good command of standard calculus. Since many phenomena are too complex to be handled analytically, the course also provides a “in a nutshell introduction” to basic numerical techniques for the solution of the gas dynamical equations.

  • Course structure

    This is a mandatory course on the Masters’ program, but can also be taken as a free-standing course. It is given during the day at a pace of 50%.

    The course is normally given in English.

    Teaching format

    The course will be taught via lectures, further illustrated by web-material. The understanding of lecture contents will be deepened by accompanying exercises. The participation in both lectures and exercises is mandatory.


    Assessment will be carried out through exercises during the course and a final, written exam.


    Stephan Rosswog

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    The major source for this course are lecture notes written by Stephan Rosswog.

  • Contact

    The academic advisor and student office can be contacted via