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Stellar Atmospheres

In this course you will study the physics of stellar atmospheres. You will learn about the formation of spectral lines and run and study your own computer simulation of the atmosphere of the Sun.

Cool layer in a Sun-like star
Cool layer in a Sun-like star. Image credit: ESA

During the first part of the course you will build on the concepts taught during the bachelor course Astrophysical Spectra (or equivalent) and study how spectral lines and continua are formed in stellar atmospheres. Particular attention will be given to the concept of scattering. You will apply the theory to write a computer program that can solve radiative transfer problems that involve scattering. In the second part of the course you will learn about modern radiation-magnetohydrodynamical simulations of stellar atmospheres. You will perform a simulation with an existing stellar atmosphere code, analyse the resulting atmosphere model, and use the code developed in the first part of the course to compute how light escapes from the model.


  • Course structure

    The course is given during day time, and is part of the Master’s programme in Astronomy. The course is given in English.


    Teaching format

    Instruction is given in the form of lectures, pencil-and-paper exercise classes as well as an extensive set of computer exercises. Participation in the computer exercises is mandatory.


    Jorrit Leenaarts

    Additional teacher

    Sanja Danilovic.


    A written individual report about the computer exercises and a written exam at the end of the course.



    Jorrit Leenaarts


  • 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.

    Radiative Transfer in Stellar Atmospheres, 2003 by Robert J. Rutten, see

    Hand outs provided during the course.

  • Contact

    The academic advisor and student office can be contacted via