• Offered by Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Areas of interest Astronomy and Astrophysics

This course is offered in Semester 1 every odd year (eg 2025, 2027)

This course covers the physics of diffuse matter in the universe, and the processes by which that diffuse matter collapses to produce new stars. The first part of the course surveys the physical processes that govern diffuse matter, with particular emphasis on the non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics of low-density matter, the mechanisms by which such matter radiates, and the interpretation of observed radation from diffuse material. The second part covers the major phases of diffuse matter in the Universe and their properties. The final part covers the circumstances under which diffuse matter can collapse to form new stars, the dynamics of such collapses, and the relationship between collapse and the properties of the resulting stellar population.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Analyze the physical processes that govern the low-density matter found in interstellar and intergalactic space, and the radiation produced by such matter.
  2. Evaluate models for the behaviour of low-density matter, and create simplified versions of such models.
  3. Communicate analysis of diffuse astrophysical systems.
  4. Work effectively in groups to solve problems related to low-density astrophysical matter.

Indicative Assessment

  1. 6 problem sets (40) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. Oral presentation (30) [LO 3]
  3. Final exam (30) [LO 1,2]

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

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 4 hours of lectures and tutorials per week.
  • Approximately 82 hours of self-directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.

Inherent Requirements

No specific inherent requirements identified for this course.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be active in the Master of Science in Astronomy and Astrophysics or the Master of Science (Advanced) in Astronomy and Astrophysics Prerequisites: ASTR3013 or ASTR6013 Incompatible: ASTR4008, ASTR8008, ASTR4017, ASTR8007 and ASTR4020.

Prescribed Texts

Physics of the Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium, B. Draine, Princeton University Press

Star Formation, M. Krumholz, World Scientific Publishing


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
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
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
3530 17 Feb 2025 24 Feb 2025 31 Mar 2025 23 May 2025 In Person N/A

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