Course Description: This course is an introduction to modern cosmology and aspects of galaxies. On the cosmological front, you will learn about the standard cosmological model: inflation followed by a radiation, a dark-matter and finally a cosmological constant dominated universe. You will learn about (1) the interplay between the contents of the universe and its space-time dynamics, (2) about how different particle species emerge from the thermal soup after the big bang and (3) the evolution of structure in our universe: from tiny quantum fluctuations during our universe’s infancy to correlated distribution of galaxies we see in the sky today. In the 4th quarter of the course we will discuss galaxies in more detail including our own host galaxy. We will emphasize the kinematics and dynamics of galaxies, as well as important scaling relations between observables. Throughout the course, we will emphasize the the interplay between different areas of physics in an astrophysical/cosmological setting and how our current theoretical understanding of galaxies and cosmology is firmly rooted in observations.
By the end of the course, you (the student) should be able to to do the following:
Prerequisites: A good base in electromagnetism, classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, special relativity, quantum mechanics, and of course prior exposure to astrophysics in general will be helpful. I will introduce relevant ideas as needed for (aspects of) general relativity, familiarity with GR will make your life easier. I will assume familiarity with systems of ordinary differential equations, multivariable calculus, Fourier analysis and linear algebra. Formally, for undergraduate students at Rice the prerequisites include (ASTR 350 OR ASTR 360) and (PHYS 301 and PHYS 302). If you do not have these requirements, please contact me and we can see if you can still take the course.
All information is representative only, and is likely to change from year to year.