In this course we will study the evolution of galaxies. Fundamental astronomical processes such as star formation, recycling and enrichment of gas, formation of planets, etc. all take place in galaxies. Besides that, galaxies are the basic building blocks of the universe, and we use them to trace the evolution of the universe. This broad scope is why galaxy research is in the forefront of astronomy.
This course covers the structure of the galaxies, including dark matter, stars and gas as well as the large scale structure in which galaxies are embedded. It discusses ongoing surveys of the nearby and distant universe. A special focus will be on the evolution of galaxies. The course builds on the bachelor course Galaxies and Cosmology and assumes that the material in this course is known to the student. A very brief recapitulation will be given of the most important material.
Course work consists of exercises, a presentation, and an oral exam. The presentation is on a paper or current research project; the oral exam focuses on the discussion of a research paper.
Techniques how the mass distributions of galaxies are measured
Modeling the equilibrium of a gravitational system with a very large number of point sources
Structure of nearby and distant galaxies
Observational programs to study these galaxies
Observations that have been used to understand the evolution of galaxies
The role of dark matter in galaxy evolution and formation
Advanced models for stellar populations and their application to the study of galaxy evolution
At the end of this course, you:
Will be able to analyze recent research papers in the general area of galaxy structure and evolution, and summarize their content and list their implications
Can describe the structure and evolution of galaxies and can list the observables of galaxies underlying this knowledge
Can explain the main mechanisms responsible for galaxy formation
During this course, you will be trained to:
Plan and execute your home exercises on time
Report the solutions to your exercises clearly
Present a paper or research project
Verbally describe topics covered by this course
Mode of instruction
Homework assignments: 40% of final grade (average >= 6 as requirement to take part in paper presentations)
Paper presentation: 20% of final grade
Paper discussion + general questions: 40% of final grade
Blackboard will be used to communicate with students and to share lecture slides, homework assignments, and any extra materials. You must enroll on Blackboard before the first lecture. To have access, you need a student ULCN account.
The course is not based on any book in particular. Useful reference books concerning galaxies include:
‘Galaxy Formation and Evolution’ by Houjun Mo, Frank van den Bosch, and Simon White, ISBN13: 978-0521857932’
‘Galactic Dynamics, Princeton Series in Astrophysics’ by James Binney and Scott Tremaine, ISBN13: 978-0-691-13027-9
‘Galactic Astronomy, Princeton Series in Astrophysics’ by James Binney and Michael Merrifield, ISBN13: 978-0-691-02565-0
These books are of excellent quality and deal with a lot of material in great detail. They will be useful throughout the career of an astronomer. However, their level is generally above that of the course, and they do not discuss large scale structure or galaxy evolution in much detail.