The goal of this course is to provide an introduction into the physics of stellar atmospheres and the formation of stellar spectra, including physical processes which determine the structure of stellar atmospheres (density and temperature stratification) and allow to determine fundamental stellar properties (effective temperature, gravity, luminosity, chemical composition). Knowledge of this field is crucial for understanding exoplanets (through transmission spectroscopy or the characterization of host stars), stellar evolution (from birth to death), the structure and evolution of galaxies (through the spectral diagnostics of their stellar populations) and the ionization of the interstellar medium in galaxies of the local and the high red-shift universe (through UV photons emerging from the atmospheres of massive stars).

The physics of stellar atmospheres and radiative transfer are complex and combine elements of atomic physics, plasma physics, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics and statistics with transport theory. The ambition of this course is to keep things simple and to understand the basic principles, but simultaneously to appreciate the complexity of modern stellar atmosphere modeling. The bulk of the material of this course was originally developed by Rolf Kudritzki.

The course will cover 12 topics as outlined in the syllabus available here. Lecture slides for each topic will be posted on this website, typically at the end of each chapter. The course will be accompanied by homework. Note that some of the homework will include a significant amount of coding, so some programming experience is strongly recommended. If you hand in the homework within 1 week after the due date, you will receive 50% credit.

Time & Place: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 13:30-14:45am, Fern Room (IfA C221)

Contact: Dan Huber (, IfA C109-B

Course Schedule:
Week 6: No Class on Feb 13 (DH in Tucson)
Week 12: No Class (Spring Break)
Week 13: No Class (DH in Sydney)
Week 16: No Class on Apr 26 (DH in Pasadena)
To make up lost time classes may start 30 mins early (13:00-14:45) during some weeks.

Lecture Slides:

Homework_1 (Due Feb 6)
Homework_2 (Due Feb 15)
Homework_3 (Due Mar 6) (Required data files: Limb Darkening Data, Solar Model)
Homework_4 (Due Mar 22)
Homework_5 (Due Apr 10)

Grading: Homework (60%), final exam (40%).