Courses & Units

Stellar and Planetary Physics KYA305


This unit is available in even numbered years only.


Stellar and Planetary Physics is an advanced unit in the Physics Major focusing on the production of energy in stars and the structure and energy balance of planets, including the Earth-Sun system and the physics of climate. Different sections of the unit concentrate on topics including: the structure of the solar interior and atmosphere; nuclear reaction networks in the Sun and other stars; stellar formation and evolution; radiation transfer through stellar and planetary atmospheres, including the processes of transmission, absorption, scattering and emission; space weather; aurorae and the Earth's magnetic field; remote sensing of the atmosphere and surface of the Earth; seismological probes of planetary and stellar interiors; terrestrial energy balance and climate change; numerical modelling techniques to describe stars, planets, and their atmospheres.

This unit builds upon topics covered in first- and second-year physics units and is recommended for students intending to major in physics. The topics covered are also suitable for students wishing to gain an understanding of the physics of astronomy, climatology, meteorology, Antarctic studies, physical geography, and related areas. The unit is taught only in even-numbered years; it alternates with KYA306, Astrophysics, so that all physics majors have the option to take one of these units treating macroscopic applications of gravitation, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and fluid dynamics. Honours students have the opportunity to take both units by planning accordingly.


Unit name Stellar and Planetary Physics
Unit code KYA305
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Sciences and Engineering
School of Natural Sciences
Discipline Physics
Coordinator Professor Andrew Cole
Available as an elective? Yes
Delivered By University of Tasmania


This unit is currently unavailable.


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Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the principles underlying the structure of stars, planetary atmospheres, and their surroundings.
  • Apply relevant theoretical knowledge of physical principles to the transfer of radiation through various media, including both stellar and planetary atmospheres.
  • Explain and apply the observational and computational methods by which data are obtained for stellar and planetary systems including their immediate environs in space and their atmospheres.
  • Formulate and test hypotheses regarding stellar and planetary systems through practical experimentation.
  • Analyse the Earth-Sun system to evaluate evidence for and against competing hypotheses in stellar and terrestrial physics, including those regarding anthropogenic influence on climate.
Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1,3 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1,3 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2,3 Domestic Full Fee 4
not applicable

1 Please refer to more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Please refer to more information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses.
3 Please refer to more information on eligibility for HECS-HELP.
4 Please refer to more information on eligibility for FEE-HELP.

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KYA212 Electromagnetism & Thermodynamics AND KMA252 Calculus and Applications 2 OR admission into a Masters of Applied Science course


Teaching Pattern

3 x 50 minute lectures weekly, 1 x 50 minute tutorial weekly, 5 x 2-hr practicals

AssessmentStellar physics mid-term test. (15%)|Planetary physics mid-term test (15%)|Examination (45%)|Weekly Problem Set Assignments (10%)|Practical Activity and Report (15%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



Course pack prepared by lecturers.


“Physics of Radiation and Climate”, 2015, Michael P. Box and Gail Box, CRC Press, ISBN-13 978-1466572058, e-book available.

LinksBooktopia textbook finder

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