Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Physics 608, Spring 2015

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.

Professor: Eric Gawiser, Serin 303W, 848-445-8874,
Lectures: Tuesday, Wednesday (and some Fridays), period 2 (10:20 - 11:40 AM)
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 measured by 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 Cosmology and Computational Astrophysics Group at the University of Zurich.
I anticipate assigning 5 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 fundamental cosmological concepts. The format should be to write in LaTeX using the templates available at the Author Instructions for the Physical Review or the Astrophysical Journal and then submit a PDF file to me through Sakai.
Paper Presentations
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. All students 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 skills.
Term Papers
Term paper proposals due on Wednesday, March 11
Draft due on Tuesday, April 7
Final version due on Wednesday, April 29
Class presentations will occur on May 5 & 6.
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: evidence for dark matter, evidence for dark energy, inflationary models, limits on the size of the universe, evidence for non-gaussianity in the CMB anisotropies, gamma ray bursts, the DAMA results and their implications for supersymmetry, a full explanation of the Boltzmann equation and its usage in predicting CMB anisotropies, a full explanation of the gauge independence of CMB anisotropies or large scale structure, the general relativity underpinnings of the Friedmann equations, the distribution of dark matter in dwarf spheroidal galaxies, baryogenesis and the matter-antimatter asymmetry, leptogenesis, the primordial abundances of the light elements, the supermassive black hole - galaxy relation, and estimates of the mass density of the universe.
Sakai Website
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.
Supplemental Textbooks
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: Cosmology
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 25% homeworks, 25% 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 15, 2015