ASTR 360 Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology

ASTR 360: Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology

Spring 2014
TTh 1:00 - 2:15; Scheduled for HBH 423. We may move to HBH 254

Course Information and Syllabus

Makeup Days: We will meet outside of the regular class period on Fridays if we need to cancel a class for some reason. We will meet on Friday March 21 for student presentations of a journal article on galaxies.

Instructor: Dr. Patrick Hartigan, Hermann Brown 350, Phone: X2245

Carroll & Ostlie, "An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics" 2nd ed. For the last 40% of the class we will supplement with Ryden "Introduction to Cosmology". You can probably get by with just the first book, but I recommend the second. A good 100-level introductory text if you have had no astronomy is "Discovering the Universe" by Comins and Kaufmann. The similar book by Bennett is ok for the easiest things. Auditors must attend class, but need not do problems or exams.

Grading: Based on a midterm oral exam(s) (25%), preparation (5%), journal presentations (10%), homeworks (30%), and a comprehensive final exam (30%)

Problem Sets, Honor Code: Problems are an important component to this class, and I will assign them periodically. We may not have time to cover all the solutions in class, so if necessary we may meet at some other time to discuss problems.

The honor code applies to the problems in the following way. If the student cannot solve a problem on their own in an hour, the student can keep working on it alone or ask for hints from a classmate who has done the problem. After writing up the problem, students should describe the level of help they required in doing it. Problems are due on the day we discuss them in class. No credit is given for late problems. You should not be meeting as a group the night before they are due to work on them together, as is the current practice in some physics classes.

Presentations: In-class presentations will be based on recent (typically within 10 years) journal articles that relate to galactic structure or extragalactic astronomy. The choice of the article is up to the student, but I must approve the article beforehand. The presentations should be about 20 minutes long (depending on class size), and are informal. There is no need to make a fancy powerpoint presentation like you might do for a seminar talk. However, it is important for students to understand all the basic physics as it relates to the paper. Students should introduce the subject clearly and identify where the paper overlaps with what we are studying. This is one way for students to get some practice teaching. Presenters must provide classmates and professor with hardcopies of the article they will discuss well in advance of the presentation. There will be a separate time for the presentations that we will schedule together, and will last about 2.5 hours, depending on class size.

Oral Exams: Undergraduate students sometimes comment upon completion of our major classes that they would have preferred more frequent tests of their knowledge to help keep them from getting too far behind. Cramming large amount of material for the final usually does not work well, and although problem sets help in this regard, they differ significantly from the final in that they are longer, more collaborative, and more complex computationally.

In response to this feedback, I have implemented oral exams for both ASTR 350 and ASTR 360 that I conduct in my office, covering the basic material we study in class. Although sometimes painful, all graduate students (and undergrads who aspire to graduate work) need to learn how to handle oral exam situations without panicking or freezing up, because that is how qualifying exams are done, and, eventually, what job interviews are like. There really is no better way to find out what someone knows than to see what they write on the board. Feedback from students has been that while some found it to be a scary experience, most felt it to be a very useful one in the long term.

Material on the orals is pledged in the sense that no one may discuss the contents of the exams or provide any hints as to what to study until all class members have taken it. Scheduling the exams will be a work in progress and something we will figure out as the semester progresses. At the risk of stating the obvious, no aids of any kind are allowed during the oral exams - just the student, professor, white board, and marker.

Cell Phones, Texting, Email, Surfing, Tweeting, Blogging: Do this on your own time. If you must have your cell on for emergency purposes you may place it on vibrate and leave the class to take any call or message. Otherwise, no electronic devices are allowed in class. Even without sound they are simply too distracting to those around you, and to me. This includes laptops and tablets. Transcribe your notes after class if you must have them electronically.


T 1/14I. Background: Astronomical Observations; Physics of Radiation
Th 1/16I. Background: Stellar Structure and Evolution
T 1/21 II. Milky Way: Star Counts; Olber's paradox; Distance Scales; Scale Heights
Th 1/23II. Milky Way: Virial; ISM Phases; Galactic Stellar content;
T 1/28II. Milky Way: Galactic Rotation; Velocity Ellipsoids; Oort A and B
Th 1/30II. Milky Way: Rotation curves; begin Galactic Center
T 2/4 II. Galactic Center; Galactic distance ladder
Th 2/6III. Normal Galaxies: Classification; Spirals, Tully-Fischer
T 2/11III. Normal Galaxies: Ellipticals, Fundamental Plane; Luminosity function
Th 2/13III. Normal Galaxies: Spiral density waves; resonances
T 2/18III. Normal Galaxies: Spiral density waves; resonances
Th 2/20Class postponed to Friday; pmh travel
F 2/21 3pmIV. Galactic Evolution: Tidal friction; ring galaxies, mergers, formation
T 2/25V. Large Scale Structure: Extragalactic distance scale, clusters, voids
Th 2/27Class postponed to Friday; pmh travel
F 2/28 3pmV. Active Galaxies NLR, BLR, radio galaxies, Seyferts
T 3/11VI. Active Galaxies: Jets; Blazars; QSOs
Th 3/13VI. Active Galaxies: Ly-alpha Forest; GRBs
T 3/18 Oral Exam scheduled throughout the day
Th 3/20Exam review; Begin Cosmology
T 3/25VII. Basic Cosmological Observations; Temperature and Blackbodies
Th 3/27VII. Curvature; RW Metric; Distances; Redshift
F 3/28 -- Paper presentations 3pm--
T 4/1VII. Lambda; Newtonian cosmology, Friedmann, Acceleration, and Fluid Equations; EOS
Th 4/3 --RECESS (No Class)--
T 4/8VII. Our Universe; Milne; Single Component Flat Universes
Th 4/10VII. Cosmology: Multiple Component Universes, the Benchmark Model
T 4/15VIII. Observations : Acceleration, Dark Matter, Cosmic Microwave Background
Th 4/17IX. Early Universe: CMB, Recombination
T 4/22IX. Early Universe: Nucleosynthesis
Th 4/24IX. Early Universe: Flatness, Horizon, Monopole Problems, Inflation
W 4/30 - W 5/7Final Exam Period
Disabled Students: Students with a documented disability that impacts their work in this class should contact me to discuss their needs. Disabled students should also register with the Disability Support Services Office in the Ley Student Center.