Special Topics in Astrophysics: Gravitational Lensing
Prof. Chuck Keeton
Monday and Thurday 10:20-11:40 AM,
Office hours: email or call or drop by to arrange a meeting
Gravitational lensing has matured into a thriving area of astrophysics, with
applications across a wide range of scales and redshifts.
The goals for this course are as follows:
- Understand the theory and phenomenology of gravitational lensing.
- Gain experience with quantitative aspects of lensing.
- Examine a variety of astrophysical applications of lensing.
We will develop the analytic theory as much as possible and consider
computational approaches as appropriate.
Some of the applications we will discuss include:
properties of stars, planets, and stellar remnants;
physical properties of galaxies;
dark matter in galaxies and clusters of galaxies;
structure of high-redshift galaxies and quasars;
This is an advanced graduate course designed for students pursuing research
in physics and astronomy. Undergraduate physics and mathematics should
provide adequate preparation. Familiarity with intermediate classical
mechanics, electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics are helpful, as much of
the mathematics encountered in those subjects applies to lensing.
The work for this course will feature both problem sets and literature
discussions/presentations. During the first ~month, we will focus on
lens theory and have weekly problem sets that are mostly analytic.
Once we begin to discuss applications, the homework will combine
working problems with reading papers and answering some questions
about them. Each student will pick two application topics and prepare
"mini lessons" to lead the discussion. These are meant to be like the
literature review section of a paper or proposal, which synthesizes
results from multiple papers to explain what is known about the topic
and what questions remain open. The lesson leader will work with me
to identify the key papers and prepare the in-class presentation and
discussion, and will then submit a ~1 page write-up. We will identify
topics and lesson leaders as we get into the semester.
Grades will be based on a combination of effort, demonstrated improvement,
and mastery of the course material. A rough breakdown is
40% mini lessons (presentation and write-up for each of two topics),
and 10% class participation.
Last updated September 7, 2017.
If you need to miss a class for some reason, there will be no penalty to
your grade; however, since I will not be posting my lecture notes, you
will generally need to rely on your classmates' notes to catch up.
- Late assignments
I am willing to be somewhat flexible, but for homeworks that are turned
in more than one lecture later than their nominal due dates I will
generally start docking points at a rate of 10% off the top per day.
- Collaboration policy
You should first try all the homework problems yourself. You may then
discuss the problems with other students in this course, but you must
write up your solutions individually. Include a brief note about what
you discussed, and with whom. You may consult books and published papers,
but not solutions sets from other courses at Rutgers or elsewhere. If you
use material from any other source, make sure to give clear attribution.
- Academic integrity
Please familiarize yourself with the
Rutgers policy on academic integrity,
including the different
levels of violations and sanctions.
If you are not enrolled for credit, you are welcome to attend the classes
but I would ask you to (a) participate, and (b) be willing to lead one
of the mini lessons.
- Students with disabilities
If you have a disability, let me know early in the semester so that we
can make the necessary arrangements for you to have a successful learning
experience. Please consult
this web page for more details.
- Student wellness services
The School of Arts and
Sciences and the Rutgers
University Student Assembly have requested that all course syllabi
include the following information on resources to support student wellness:
- The Just In Case Web App
provides access to helpful mental health information and resources for
yourself or a friend in a mental health crisis on your smartphone or tablet,
and easily contacts CAPS or RUPD.
- Rutgers Counseling,
ADAP & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) (848-932-7884; 17 Senior Street in
New Brunswick) is a University mental health support service that includes
counseling, alcohol and other drug assistance, and psychiatric services
staffed by a team of professionals within Rutgers Health Services to support
students' efforts to succeed at Rutgers University. CAPS offers a variety of
services that include individual therapy, group therapy and workshops, crisis
intervention, referral to specialists in the community and consultation, and
collaboration with campus partners.
- The Office for
Violence Prevention & Victim Assistance (VPVA) (848-932-1181; 3 Bartlett
Street in New Brunswick) provides confidential crisis intervention,
counseling, and advocacy for victims of sexual and relationship violence and
taff can be reached by phone
during office hours when the university; advocates can be reached by phone
- The Office of Disability
Services (848-445-6800; Lucy Stone Hall, Suite A145, Livingston Campus,
54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue in Piscataway) works with students with documented
disabilities to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations,
facilitates and coordinates those accommodations when applicable, and lastly
engages with the Rutgers community at large to provide and connect students
to appropriate resources.
(732-247-5555) is a free and confidential peer counseling and
referral hotline, providing a comforting and supportive safe space.