Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy
Physics 608, Spring 2017
This is a graduate-level course on the origin and evolution of the
Universe. Cosmology is a rich field of physics, drawing
from astrophysics, gravitation, particle physics, nuclear physics and thermodynamics.
The last decade and a half have seen the development of a standard model of
cosmology called Lambda Cold Dark Matter (LCDM)
which explains a wide array of observed
phenomena and has successfully predicted the power spectra of
cosmic microwave background and large-scale structure.
This class will attempt to highlight the quality of the
current match between data and theory.
Instructor: Prof. Eric Gawiser,
Serin 303W, 848-445-8874,
Lectures: Tuesdays and Thurdays, 10:20-11:40 AM (plus a few Wednesdays 12-1:20 PM as make-up for snowdays/travel)
Location: Serin 401, Busch Campus
Office Hours: email or call or drop by to arrange a meeting
Text: Modern Cosmology, Scott Dodelson, Academic Press:
ISBN 978-0-12-219141-1. Available from Amazon.
Lectures will closely follow the text, so please bring it to class with you.
Figures -- Above Left: Microwave intensity fluctuations on the sky as
ESA's Planck mission.
Red is higher intensity and blue is
lower. Emission due to galactic foregrounds and a dipole variation due
to the Earth's peculiar velocity have been subtracted. Above Right:
The results of a simulation of the formation of our Milky Way Galaxy.
Yellow denotes the highest density of dark matter. Note the much
larger amount of substructure than we actually observe in the form of
satellite galaxies. From the
Computational Astrophysics Group at the University of Zurich.
I anticipate assigning 4 homework assignments during the term, each roughly covering 2 textbook chapters. These can be worked on individually or in groups but will be treated as scientific papers, so
each group should submit one version with an author list and proper citation and acknowledgments of resources used (both human and published).
The emphasis will be on developing
clear scientific writing that illustrates understanding
of cosmological concepts and displays accurate computations. The homeworks should be written in
the templates available at the Author Instructions for the Physical Review or
the AAS Journals and then submit a PDF file to me through Sakai. Homeworks will be due on Jan. 31, Feb. 21, Mar. 7 and Mar. 28 (all Tuesdays).
In addition to the textbook, we will read 1-2 scientific papers per week to
get a sense of the rapid development of cosmology during the past century.
are expected to read the papers, with one assigned to present the highlights
to the class. Each student is expected to present 2 papers over the course of
the semester. This will allow us to practice and improve oral presentation
Term paper proposals due on Thursday, Mar 2
Draft due on Tuesday, April 4
Peer reviews due on Tuesday, April 18
Final version due on Tuesday, May 2
Class presentations will occur starting April 18
Each student needs to select a unique topic and clear it with me
well before the proposal is due -- first come, first
served. Some possible topics are: gravitational waves, avoiding the Big Bang singularity, modifications to General Relativity that explain cosmic acceleration, MOND, searches for dark matter, models
for dark energy, inflationary models, reheating at the end of inflation, connecting inflation to dark energy, limits on the size of the universe,
searches for primordial non-gaussianity in LSS and CMB anisotropies, gamma
ray bursts, cosmic naturalness,
a full explanation of the Boltzmann equation and its usage in predicting
CMB anisotropies, CMB polarization, gravitational lensing as a cosmological probe, measurements of neutrino masses and the number of neutrino species, gauge independence of CMB
anisotropies and large scale structure, the general relativity underpinnings
of the Friedmann equations,
problems with CDM including the distribution of dark matter in dwarf
galaxies, baryogenesis and the matter-antimatter asymmetry,
leptogenesis, inhomogeneous BBN, baryon acoustic oscillations, estimates of the mass density of the universe, cosmic reionization, numerical techniques in cosmology, and statistical techniques in cosmology. (Topics marked with an * are already spoken for this semester.)
I will maintain a class website that can be accessed through
Sakai. Assignments will be announced,
submitted, and commented on through this website. It also provides a chat room
for archived discussion of course material outside of class and an online gradebook spreadsheet.
In addition to the main textbook, I will place several other useful Cosmology texts on reserve in the Physics Library in Serin. These will be useful for homework assignments and term papers. They are:
Peacock: Cosmological Physics
Padmanabhan: Structure Formation in the Universe
Kolb & Turner: The Early Universe
Liddle & Lyth: Cosmological Inflation and Large Scale Structure
Coles & Lucchin: Cosmology: The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure (2nd edition)
Weinberg: Gravitation and Cosmology
Peebles: Principles of Physical Cosmology
Peebles: The Large Scale Structure of the Universe
Durrer: The Cosmic Microwave Background
Ryden: Introduction to Cosmology
Longair: Galaxy Formation
Schneider: Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology
Mo, van den Bosch & White: Galaxy Formation and Evolution
Students will be graded on a combination of effort, demonstrated improvement,
and mastery of the course material. A rough grade breakdown is 30% homeworks,
20% paper presentations and other class participation, and 50% for the term
paper and accompanying class presentation.
Students with Disabilities
Information is available here.
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Last revised January 16, 2017