• Offered by Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Areas of interest Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Naomi McClure-Griffiths
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2022
    See Future Offerings

See https://www.anu.edu.au/covid-19-advice. In Sem 1 2022, this course is delivered on campus with adjustments for remote participants.

This course provides an introduction to the physical processes that underlie almost all astrophysical phenomena: radiation and fluid dynamics. The course is split evenly between those two topics, with an emphasis on basic physical processes rather than astrophysical applications. The radiation portion of the class covers the statistical mechanics of radiation fields, radiative transfer, plasma emission processes (free and synchrotron radiation), and line formation. The fluid dynamics portion includes derivation of the theory of fluids from gas kinetics, calculation of flows in simple geometry, stability analysis, and supersonic flows and shocks. The overall goal is to provide a grounding in physics suitable for continuing research in astrophysics in more specialised classes.

This course is taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Explain the physical processes of radiation emission and radiative transfer, and be able to apply these principles to solve quantitative problems using a variety of mathematical and numerical approaches;
  2. Explain the fluid approximation and its validity, and be able to solve quantitative problems in fluid mechanics;
  3. Clearly communicate the results of physical analysis in the areas of radiation and fluid dynamics;
  4. Work effectively as part of a group on problems in these areas;
  5. Read, interpret, and critically analyse professional research literature in the areas of astrophysical fluid dynamics and radiative transfer modelling;
  6. Identify unsolved problems in astrophysical fluid dynamics and radiative transfer, and propose research approaches that could be used to address them.

Indicative Assessment

  1. 6 problem sets (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Final exam (40) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Critical reflection on research literature, delivered in written and oral form (20) [LO 5,6]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 3 x 1 hour lectures and 1 x 1 hour tutorial per week
  • Approximately 82 hours of self-study which will include an average 4 hours per week of problem sets, and 3 hours per week on the critical literature reflection

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in the course you must be currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Astronomy & Astrophysics or the Master of Science (Advanced) in Astronomy & Astrophysics. Incompatible with ASTR3013.

Prescribed Texts

Radiative Processes in Astrophysics, by G. B. Rybicki and A. P. Lightman

The Physics of Astrophysics, Vol. II: Gas Dynamics, by F. H. Shu

Assumed Knowledge

Undergraduate knowedge equivalent to PHYS2013, PHYS2020, MATH2305 and MATH2306


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $4200
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $6000
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3927 21 Feb 2022 28 Feb 2022 31 Mar 2022 27 May 2022 In Person N/A

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