Professional Course

Introduction to Astrophysics (English)

edX, Online
7 weeks
139 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
7 weeks
139 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

Introduction to Astrophysics

This course provides an overview of the physical phenomena at play in the astronomical objects surrounding us, from planets and stars to the cosmic filaments, from galaxies such as our own Milky Way to large galaxy clusters. The course emphasizes the links between theoretical predictions and observations.

In this course, you will learn the basics of astrophysics using simplified mathematical developments. In particular, you will learn the role played by gravity in astrophysics, including gravitational lensing, and how matter and radiation interact. The material in this course is essential to follow more advanced astrophysics courses.

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  • Self-paced Online
  • Online
  • English

Who should attend?


Physics and Maths (1st year of bachelor):

  • Trigonometry
  • Derivatives and Taylor expansions
  • Integral calculus
  • 1st order differential equations

Training content

  • Parallaxes and Parsec
  • General Introduction
  • Mass and Distance scales
  • Kepler's Laws
  • Virial Theorem
  • Potential Energy of a Sphere
  • Numerical Illustrations of Virial Theorem
  • Radiation processes in Astrophysics
  • Line and Continuum Radiation
  • Examples of Spectra
  • Radiated Energy and Units
  • Radiation Pressure
  • Bremsstrahlung and Synchrotron Radiations
  • Black Body Radiation
  • Total Luminosity (sigma T^4)
  • Wien's Law
  • Atomic Emission Lines
  • The Case of Hydrogen
  • How to Measure Radiation
  • Flux, Luminosity, Filters
  • Illustration: How do we Make True Color Images?
  • Magnitudes
  • Color of Celestial Bodies
  • Distance Modulus
  • Doppler Effect
  • Doppled Measurement
  • Stellar Rotation
  • Exoplanets and Stellar Radial Velocities
  • Hubble Law
  • Roche Limit
  • Example of Saturn's Rings
  • Stellar Formation
  • Free-fall Time
  • Jeans' Mass and radius
  • Kelvin-Helmholtz Time
  • Stellar Energy Balance
  • Example of a Comet Disrupted by Jupiter's Tidal Forces
  • Galaxies: General Description
  • Morphological Classification
  • Big Bang: Basic Presentation
  • Hubble Expansion
  • Cosmological Redshift
  • Cosmic Background Radiation

Course delivery details

This course is offered through Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, a partner institute of EdX.

3-4 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$139
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

  • Influence of gravity on celestial bodies
  • Matter-radiation interactions
  • Star formation and evolution
  • Basics of cosmology

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141 Portland Street
02139 Cambridge Massachusetts


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