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Neutron Stars, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves

Code: 44084 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
4313861 High Energy Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology OT 0 2


We need to correct the following learning outcome, which is currently incorrect in the guide:

- Recognise the kind of source eminent radiation in different bands, and know how to estimate the kind of gravitational waves expected from different systems of neutron stars and black holes.


Daniele Vigano

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
english (eng)


Miquel Nofrarias Serra
Cristina Manuel Hidalgo
Laura Tolos
Francesco Coti Zelati
Diego Blas Temiņo
Vanessa Graber


Basics of Astronomy and Physics is required. It is advised (but not strictly needed) to have followed the course of Observational Techniques. The course of High-Energy Astrophysics is complementary to this course in some specific topics.

Objectives and Contextualisation

Neutron Stars and Black Holes are the extreme leftovers of the explosion of very massive stars. They challenge fundamental aspects of nuclear physics, plasma physics, general relativity, and represent the sources of all detected Gravitational Waves so far, when they are in a binary system and collide. The course is intended to:

  • provide a basic and broad view of the observations and theoretical understanding of Neutron Stars and Black Holes, focusing on their known Galactic population
  • give a self-contained introduction to physics of Gravitational Waves, explaining the current state of detections of compact object mergers, and the beginning of the multi-messenger astronomy era
  • provide an interconnected view of open questions about compact objects, related to the fundamental physics uncertainties and to the observational biases that shape the phenomenology of the detected population


  • Understand the bases of advanced topics selected at the frontier of high energy physics, astrophysics and cosmology and apply them consistently.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the physical processes responsible for the multi-band emission of neutron stars of different classes, and black holes of various masses.


  • Introduction and observational overview of compact objects in connection with high-energy astronomy
  • Neutron star physics: equation of state
  • Neutron star physics: transport properties
  • Neutron star physics: spin-down of pulsars
  • Neutron star physics: observed emission at different wavelengths and associated physical mechanisms
  • Modeling of the observed population of isolated neutron stars: long-term evolution of magnetic and thermal properties
  • Elements of Special and General Relativity as well as tensor calculus
  • Black holes: basic theory
  • Observational review of X-ray bright binary systems containing neutron stars or black holes
  • Gravitational waves: basic theory
  • Gravitational waves: post-Newtonian approximation and quantitative study of GW sources
  • Gravitational waves: observational review
  • Binary neutron stars mergers and the new era of the multi-messenger astronomy


Theory lectures, with small exercises in class. Assignment of homework, based on the content seen in class.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Lectures 45 1.8 1
Type: Autonomous      
Study of the theoretical and observational concepts 70 2.8 1


The evaluation will be composed of:

  • 50% the average mark of the different assignments given during the course (indicatively one exercise per teacher)
  • 50% one final written exam, with different questions covering the main different topics. There will be a resit exam in case of not reaching the minimum total mark of the course.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Homework for different topics 50% 33 1.32 1
Written exam (two chances) 50% 2 0.08 1


S. L. Shapiro & S. A. Teukolsky “Black Holes, White Dwarfs, and Neutron Stars: The Physics of Compact Objects”, Wiley Ed., 1983
P. Haensel, A.Y. Potekhin & D.G. Yakovlev “Neutron Stars 1 - Equation of State and Structure”, Astrophysics and Space Sciences Library, Springer, 2006
The Physics and Astrophysics of Neutron Stars”, Astrophysics and Space Sciences Library, Springer, (Editors: L. Rezzolla, P. Pizzocchero, D. I. Jones, N. Rea, I. Vidaña), 2018
Astrophysical Black Holes”, Astrophysics and Space Sciences Library, Springer (Editors: Haardt, Gorini, Moschella, Treves, Colpi), 2016
S. Weinberg, "Gravitation and Cosmology: Principles and Applications of the General Theory of Relativity", Wiley Ed., 1972
W. Misner, K. S. Thorne, J. A. Wheeler, "Gravitation", W. H. Freeman and Company, 1973
M. Shibata, "100 Years of General Relativity: Volume 1 - Numerical Relativity", World Scientific, 2015
Gravitational Wave Astrophysics”, Astrophysics and Space Sciences Library, Springer (Editor: Sopuerta), 2016