TÄHT7033 Astrophysical spectroscopy and interstellar medium 6 ECTS
Organised by
Person in charge
Seppo Mattila
Planned organizing times
Period(s) I II III IV
2016–2017 X
Preceding studies
Theoretical astrophysics

Learning outcomes

After completing the course the student should be able to:
Describe astrophysical applications of atomic and molecular spectroscopy;
Explain the processes of emission and absorption of line radiation by atoms and molecules;
Explain how spectral lines are formed and interpret spectral line profiles;
Discuss the main heating and cooling processes in diffuse media;
Describe formation and destruction of molecules and dust grains and the roles of dust in the interstellar medium;
Calculate sizes of ionized regions around hot stars and analyze their evolution;
Describe the basics of gas dynamics and illustrate astrophysical shocks;
Describe the main characteristics of stellar winds and different types
of supernovae; analyze their effects on the environments;
Explain processes in star forming regions;
Solve problems on all the topics in the syllabus;
Develop self-study skills.


The course illustrates how spectroscopic data are used to determine physical quantities (elemental abundances, temperatures, densities, velocities) of astrophysical objects with a special emphasis on interstellar (ISM) and circumstellar medium (CSM). The course covers observations of ISM, cooling and heating of interstellar gas, molecule formation, interstellar dust grains, and ionized regions around hot stars and their evolution. An introduction to gas dynamics and astrophysical shocks is also given including stellar winds and supernova explosions and their effects on the surrounding ISM.

Teaching methods

Teaching method Contact Online
Lectures 28 h 0 h
Exercises 12 h 0 h

Homework and computer tasks

Teaching language


Modes of study

Option 1
Available for:
  • Degree Programme Students
  • Other Students
  • Doctoral Students
  • Exchange Students
Written exam
  • In English
Participation in classroom work
  • In English

Min. 50% of exercises.
Written exam and weekly exercises; oral presentation


Numeric 0-5.

Recommended year of study

4. year spring
5. year spring

MSc-degree students, year 1 or 2

Study materials

Lecture notes and articles
The Physics of the Interstellar Medium (J.E. Dyson and D.A. Williams,
Manchester University Press. 2nd Edition)
Interpreting Astronomical Spectra (D. Emerson, Wiley, 1996)

Belongs to following study modules

Department of Physics and Astronomy
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Archived Teaching Schedule. Please refer to current Teaching Shedule.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Degree Programme in Physical Sciences
DP in Physics Education Track
Degree Programme in Physical Sciences
DP in Theoretical Physics
Finnish Study Modules