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Computational Astrophysics

Module PH2077

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2010/1

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
WS 2020/1WS 2010/1

Basic Information

PH2077 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered in winter semester.

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 40 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2077 in the version of WS 2010/1 was Ewald Müller.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


The subject of astrophysics are complex objects and phenomena. Seeking for a theoretical understanding, a realistic description is required. To this end, computers have become a major tool of research and with ever more powerful computational resources and modern numerical techniques, a detailed modeling of astrophysical objects has become feasible. Based on general trategies to numerically model astrophysical phenomena, the course aims at describing some recent developments in computational astrophysics.
Covered topics:
-) Astrophysical concepts
-) Numerical concepts
-) Modeling gravity
-) Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
-) Relativistic CFD
-) Magnetohydrodynamics
-) Modeling nuclear reactions
-) Modeling radiative transfer

Learning Outcome

After participation in the Module the student is able to:
1) understand basic modeling techniques of astrophysical mechanisms
2) apply numerical schemes for describing astrophysical processes
3) create numerical astrophysics codes that involve as basic building blocks one ore many of the topics discussed in the course


No preconditions in addition to the requirements for the Master’s program in Physics.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Computational Astrophysics Janka, H. Müller, E. Fri, 14:00–16:00, PH HS3
and singular or moved dates

Learning and Teaching Methods

lecture, beamer presentation, board work, discussion, homework problems


computer simulations, accompanying internet site


P. Bodenheimer, G.P. Laughlin, M. Rozycka, and H.W. Yorke: Numerical Methods in Astrophysics, Taylor & Francis, 2007
W.H. Press, S.A. Teukolsky. W.T. Vetterling, and B.P. Flannery: Numerical Recipes (third edition), Cambridge University Press, 2007
J.M. Thijssen: Computational Physics (2nd edition), Cambridge University Press, 2007
D. Potter: Computational Physics, Wiley, 1973
W. Hillebrandt, E. Mueller, and F. Kupka: Einfuehrung in die Theoretische Astrophysik,
T. Padmanabhan: An Invitationa to Astrophysics, World Scientific, 2006

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be neither an oral exam nor a written exam. Instead students are asked to handle a set of homework problems during the course of the lecture using Iphython Notebooks provided on the lecture webpage

The homework problems cover various aspects of the material taught during the lecture course, e.g.,
* test the behavior of different numerical schemes to solve the one-dimensional diffusion equation, and determine whether the schemes are consistent, convergent and stable
* analyze the behavior of the Newton-Raphson method to solve a nonlinear equation
* study the shock tube problem encountered in hydrodynamic simulations using Riemann solvers to handle shock waves

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester. There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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