Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Advanced Astrophysics and Cosmology

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This unit provides an overview of astrophysical cosmology with emphasis on the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, galaxies and related phenomena at high redshift, and cosmic structure formation.

The unit will cover galaxy formation and evolution, provide an introduction to galactic dynamics and discuss techniques in observational astrophysics. Additional topics include cosmic inflation, nucleosynthesis and baryosynthesis, gamma-ray bursts and solar system formation.

Study-unit Aims:

- Provide the student with a solid grounding in core concepts in astrophysics and cosmology;
- Draw on a number of topics from physics to convey the big picture of our modern understanding of the universe;
- Serve as broad preparation for graduate studies in related topics.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- describe the history of the universe from the big bang to the present;
- describe the components that make up the energy density of the universe;
- describe how thermal equilibrium in the universe is achieved and calculate the processes that lead to this equilibrium; work out the size of the universe and how it is evolving;
- describe how perturbations in the universe lead to the formation of structure we observe in the universe today;
- understand galaxy formation from field theory and fluctuations; understand the basic principles of galaxy evolution and stellar formation and evolution; understand basic concepts in galactic dynamics; describe solar system formation;
- describe probes of cosmology and how they are used in conjunction with cosmological models; learn principles of astronomical data reduction.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- calculate the expansion rate and the age of the universe;
- calculate the geometry of the universe;
- derive the black-body radiation equations of the universe;
- derive the temperature power spectrum of the cosmic microwave background; derive the theoretical foundations for the perturbations in the cosmic microwave backrgound that lead to temperature anisotropies;
- compare data and predicted models to find the best-fit parameters of the cosmological parameters.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Peacock, J., Cosmological Physics, Cambridge University Press, 1999.
- Liddle, A., An Introduction to Modern Cosmology, Wiley, 2003.
- Binney, J. and S. Tremaine, Galactic Dynamics, Princeton University Press, 1987.
- Lyth, D., Cosmology for Physicists, CRC Press, 2016.


ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite Study-unit: PHY3170

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Project

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 No 30%
Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 70%


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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.