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Simulation and Modeling in Astrophysics (AMUSE)


Admission requirements

This course is not very suitable for students with little or no
affinity for programming or astrophysics. In order to successfully
finish this course, you will need:

  • Bachelor's degree in Astronomy and/or Physics

  • Demonstrable knowledge of calculus

  • A fundamental knowledge of LINUX, English, and programming


During this course you will learn how to perform research with
existing computational tools and simulation codes. This will be done
using the Astrophysics Multipurpose software Environment (AMUSE)
software. You will learn how to set up a computer experiment, write
the code to carry out the simulations, perform the calculations,
collect and analyze the data, and critically assess the results.

Students, in groups of two or three, will work on their joined
projects, and report on the results by written report and a

The final project is chosen in discussion with the teacher from a wide
range of topics. From a computational point of view the topic should
generally include at least two fundamental physical phenomena:
gravitational dynamics, hydrodynamics, radiative transfer, or stellar

The work will be carried out using AMUSE to perform a number of
simulations to study astrophysical phenomena. The course ends with a
presentation and report on the final project.


  • AMUSE in general

  • Gravitational dynamics

  • Stellar evolution

  • Hydrodynamics

  • Code coupling strategies

  • Project management

  • Visualization

  • Presentation and reporting

  • Algorithms

  • Python

  • Software sustainability

  • High-performance computing

Course objectives

How to perform, judge, select and adapt the proper numerical tools for
conducting your own research, and how to validate the work of others.

Soft skills

In this course, students will be trained in the following
behavior-oriented skills:

  • Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)

  • Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction)

  • Critical assessment (asking questions, assumption validation)

  • Creativity (resourcefulness, lateral thinking)

  • Collaboration (extreme programming, joined research)

  • Management of their own research endeavor


See Astronomy master schedules

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Practical classes

  • Presentations

Assessment method

  • Homework assignments

  • Team projects

  • Final project presentation

Brightspace and Git

Brightspace will be used to communicate with students. But to share lecture slides, homework assignments, or any extra materials, we
will be using git.
To have access to Brightspace, you need a student ULCN account.

Reading list

Course material is available online via the git wiki, these include:


Via uSis. More information about signing up for your classes can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof.dr. S.F. (Simon) Portegies Zwart
Assistants: Martijn Wilhelm


The course starts with a test on basic knowledge and skills essential
for successfully finishing the course. The result of this test will
be used to judge the suitability of the candidate for the course, and
may result in an advise to the student to stop the course work.