Galaxies and Cosmology

An introduction to the modern extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, the physical universe, big bang, formation and evolution of galaxies, quasars, and large-scale structure.

About The Course

This class is an introduction to the modern extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, i.e., the part of astrophysics that deals with the structure and evolution of the universe as a whole, and its major constituents: dark matter, dark energy, galaxies, quasars, large-scale structure, and intergalactic gas.  It will cover the subjects including: relativistic cosmological models and their parameters, extragalactic distance scale, cosmological tests, composition of the universe, dark matter, and dark energy; the hot big bang, cosmic nucleosynthesis, recombination, and cosmic microwave background; formation and evolution of structure in the universe; galaxy clusters, large-scale structure and its evolution; galaxies, their properties and fundamental correlations; formation and evolution of galaxies; star formation history of the universe; quasars and other active galactic nuclei, and their evolution; structure and evolution of the intergalactic medium; diffuse extragalactic backgrounds; the first stars, galaxies, and the reionization era.  It corresponds to the Ay 21 class taught at Caltech.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    Internet access. Some math package (e.g., Matlab, Mathematica) may be helpful. The books recommended above would be also very useful.

  • What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?

    How the universe evolves, and how do we get to know that.

Recommended Background

This class assumes at a minimum a prior knowledge of astronomy at a good mid-undergraduate level (e.g., “Astro 101” for science majors, not “Astro 1” for poets), knowledge of physics at a comparable level, and math at a level of calculus or higher.  A substantive Wikipedia article is about at the right level.