Rice University logo
 
 
 
 

 

Astronomy 452: Astrophysics II: Galaxies And Cosmology


Course Outline


Historical background: Shapley-Curtis debate, Hubble's expansion law.

Galaxies: Hubble sequence,properties of spirals and ellipticals, luminosity functions, clustersof galaxies, dynamics, gas content, dark matter

Active Galaxies: phenomenology, accreting black hole paradigm

Observational basis for the cosmological principle: large scale structure, cosmic microwave background radiation

Cosmological distance ladder: standard candles, direct and indirect distance estimate techniques

Cosmochronology: nuclear cosmochronology, ultra-metal-poor halo stars, globular clusters MS turnoff, white dwarf cooling

Robertson-Walker Metric: isotropic curved spaces, general form of R-W metric, cosmic time, comoving coordinates, scale factor

Observations and metric:redshift, time dilation, Hubble's law, angular diameters, luminositydistance, K-correction, number densities, age of the universe

Special/general relativity refresher:spacetime geometry, principle of equivalence, acceleration andcurvature, weak static field (Newtonian) metric, Einstein equation

Friedman equations: R-W metric, energy-momentum tensor, energy density evolution

Friedman world models: dynamics of single and multi component universes, ΩML"diagnostic" plane

Inflation: problems (flatness, horizon, monopoles), inflationary universe, phase transitions as mechanism for inflation

Thermal history: photon-baryon ratio, number and energy densities, time-temperature relationship, decoupling(s)

Primordial (big bang) nucleosynthesis: proton-neutron ratio, deuterium bottleneck, 4He formation, primordial elements abundance measurements

Recombination: hydrogen formation, last scattering surface, constraints on reionization

Density perturbations:Jeans' instability in expanding cosmology, linear evolution (growth,stagnation, damping), primordial spectrum of perturbations, massvariance, non-linear phase, observational signatures

Cosmic microwave background:physical process and scales at last scattering surface, angular powerspectrum, cosmic variance, Sachs-Wolfe effect, acoustic peaks

 

 

Typical Organization

Lectures Tu Th 2:30 - 3:45

Homework (40%)

Participation (10%)

Project (20%)

Final exam (30%)

Text: Malcolm S. Longair, Galaxy formation

Other resources


All information is representative only, and is likely to change from year to year.