Prospectuses 2011-2012
Radboud universityProspectusesFaculty of Science > Master Physics and Astronomy

Compact Binaries: Physics and Evolution 

Course ID
Teaching methods
  • 10 hrs computer course
  • 30 hrs lecture
  • 30 hrs problem session
Bachelor degree in (astro)physics with Stellar evolution ('sterevolutie').
  • The student will be have a working knowledge of the equation of state of compact objects
  • The student will be able to explain the formation of compact binaries
  • The student will master the physics of accretion and be able to relate this to observed phenomena.
  • The student will understand how compact binaries can be observed at all electromagnetic wavelenghts and in gravitational waves
Binary stellar systems containing at least one compact object (a white dwarf, neutron star or black hole) are ideal place to study physics under extreme conditions: strong gravity, high energy, supranuclear densities, strong radiation fields, 'naked' fusion. Compact binaries host most of the observed high energy physics phenomena as observed in the X-ray and gamma-ray sky: X-ray bursts, X-ray pulsars, novae, Supernovae Type Ia, radio and X-ray jets, accretion disks and perhaps even gamma-ray bursts. The course will give an overview of the formation of the compact binary. The (interior) physics of compact objects will be explained (supranuclear densities, degenerate matter, quark-gluon plasmas, superfluidity and superconductivity). In most systems accretion of matter is reponsible for the observed phenomena. The physics of accretion will be detailed and a relation will be made with the observed phenomena.

Exercises and a presentation on a relevant topic in a concluding 'mini-symposium'.

Computer programming exercise



  • Lewin & Van der Klis, Compact Stellar X-ray Sources
Extra information
This course will be given even-biannual, next time in 2012/13