ASTR/PHYS 328/428 - Cosmology and the Structure of the Universe
Fall 2016

Class Times:

T/Th 11:30-12:45


Chris Mihos
Sears 557


none required, but these will be on reserve in the Astronomy Library:

Carroll & Ostlie
Intro to Modern Astrophysics
Galaxy Formation

Grading Policies:

Homeworks can be discussed collaboratively, but each person must turn in their own solutions with unique writeup/analysis. Collaborative means talking with each other about approaches, techniques, etc. Collaborative does not mean sitting side-by-side working out the answers, or swapping final solutions to copy!

Homework will be accepted in hardcopy form only -- no electronic/email submissions. Assignments are due at 4:00pm on the due date unless otherwise noted.

Late HW policy: You get one free late homework (up to one week late), no questions asked. After that, it's a penalty of 20% for every day late, unless you have an prearranged, excused reason.

Missed test policy: Don't miss tests. If you are ill or have some other critical reason for missing a test, you must let me know promptly (in advance of the test if possible),  and document the reason with Undergraduate Studies.

For graduate students enrolled in ASTR/PHYS 428, there will be additional problems on the HW sets, along with an independent oral (30 min) and written (5 page) project on a topic of the student's interest, chosen in consultation with the instructor.

Useful Links:

Grade Weights


Homework Due Dates
HW #1
Sep 15
HW #2
Oct 4
HW #3 Nov 1
HW #4
Nov 17
HW #5 Dec 8

ASTR/PHYS 428 Project Due Dates

Project Writeup (Draft)
Nov 28
Project Presentation
Dec 8
Project Writeup (Final) Dec 15

Learning Outcomes:

After taking this course, students should be able to:
  • Employ quantitative metrics for shape, size, and distances within the universe under different cosmological models.
  • Quantitatively describe the dynamical evolution of the universe under different cosmological models.
  • Describe observational evidence for the various cosmological parameters that define the reigning cosmological model.
  • Compare and constrast different cosmological distance estimators.
  • Critique the quality of and uncertainties in cosmological distance estimators.
  • Describe qualitatively the growth of structure under various cosmological models.
  • Employ quantitative metrics for measuring structure in the universe.
  • Describe physical models for galaxy formation and hierarchical galaxy evolution.
  • Describe the observational constraints on models of galaxy evolution over cosmic time.
  • Analyse observational datasets to infer cosmological information.

Schedule and Content
(all subject to change)

Aug 30
Foundations of Modern Cosmology
Curved Space and Metrics
Sep 1
The Cosmological Redshift
Newtonian Cosmology
The Friedmann Equation
Cosmological Parameters
Sep 6
Adding Pressure: The Fluid and Acceleration Equations
Dynamics and Lookback Times (for SCDM)
Dynamics (for flat lambda universes)

Sep 8
The Proper Distance
Horizons (Page 1, Page 2)
Age Tests
Cosmological Observables
Sep 13
Cosmological Observables (continued)
Morphology of High Redshift Galaxies
The Classical Metric-Based Tests of Cosmology
Sep 15
The Classical Metric-Based Tests of Cosmology (continued)
Supernovae Cosmology
Sep 20
The Cosmic Microwave Background
Sep 22
Big Bang Nucleosynthesis
Sep 27
Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (continued)
The Extragalactic Distance Scale
Sep 29
Standard Candles:
Oct 4
Dynamical Distance Indicators: Tully-Fisher and Fundamental Plane / Dn-sigma
Oct 6
Secondary Indicators -- Summary
"Direct Distances" -- Sunyaev-Zeldovich and Gravitational Lensing
Oct 11
Catch-up Day
Oct 13
Midterm Exam: Midterm Study Questions
Oct 18
Large Scale Structure
Oct 20
Large Scale Motions in the Universe I
Large Scale Motions in the Universe II
Oct 25
Fall Break
Oct 27 Pre-recombination Fluctuations: Adiabatic vs Isothermal
Nov 1
Linear Growth of Structure
Nov 3
Adding Dark Matter (continued)
Using Structure to Test Cosmology

Nov 8
Baryon Acoustic Oscillations
Non-linear collapse of overdensities
Nov 10
Non-linear collapse of overdensities
Baryonic cooling
Galaxy formation overview and the view from simulations
Nov 15
Observing high redshift galaxy formation
Lyman Break and Sub-mm galaxies
Nov 17
The formation of massive ellipticals
Nov 22
No class
Nov 24
Thanksgiving Holiday
Nov 29
First Stars
Dec 1
First Stars
The star formation history of the universe
Dec 6
The  Future of the Cosmos
Dec 8
Pengfei's Presentation: Lyman-alpha Forest Cosmology
Integrative Summary: The History of the Universe, Cosmological Parameters
Dec 13
Final Exam: Final Exam Study Questions