On the Origin of Elements in the Milky Way

Credit: Jenny Mottar, NASA

The Big Bang only formed hydrogen and helium. All other elements, e.g., the ones we are made of, were subsequently formed in stars. This course discusses how these elements formed and how we can directly measure and probe nucleosynthesis and galactic chemical evolution. The course starts with the solar composition, i.e., the composition of the Solar System that we are ultimately trying to explain. It then goes back to the Big Bang to start with the first nucleosynthesis events. From here on, the course loops through various stellar nucleosynthesis events and discusses observations and measurements along the way that help us to understand how the elements we are all made of formed in the first place.

This course was first held at Brandeis University in Spring 2021 and is geared as an elective course towards advanced undergraduates and early graduate students. The course is design as a mixture between lectures and reading / discussion of original scientific manuscripts.

All documents, homework sets, etc. of this course, including the LaTeX source files are available on GitHub. All original files are published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. A direct link to the lecture note PDF file is also given on top of this page.

Reto Trappitsch
Reto Trappitsch
Assistant Research Professor

Experimental astrophysicist / cosmochemist with ties and interest in code development and numerical modeling.