Structure of the Milky Way: the disk, bulge, stellar halo, and dark matter halo; spiral arms; review of stellar populations.
The distance ladder: review of parallax; standard candles; Cepheid variable stars; Type Ia supernovae; the Hubble law.
Properties of galaxies: morphological classification and the Hubble tuning fork; spectra and nebular emission lines; colours; luminosity function; surface brightness profiles; Tully-Fisher relation; Faber-Jackson relation; the fundamental plane.
Galaxy environments: the field; groups; clusters; the morphology-density relation; transformation of galaxies in dense environments.
Active galaxies: broad and narrow line active galactic nuclei (AGN); Seyfert galaxies; radio galaxies; quasars; blazars; accretion power and supermassive black holes; Eddington luminosity; unified model of AGN.
Dark matter: evidence from rotation curves of galaxies, velocity dispersion in galaxy clusters, dark matter haloes and structure formation, direct detection experiments, alternative theories.
The expanding Universe: cosmological redshift; the cosmological principle (homogeneity and isotropy); the Friedmann equation (Newtonian derivation); the fluid equation; the acceleration equation.
Simple cosmological models: evolution of matter or radiation dominated universes; curvature and the geometry of the Universe; Hubble parameter; density parameters; deceleration parameter; dark energy.
Cosmological observations: measuring density parameters; nucleosynthesis and the origin of light elements; the cosmic microwave background.
Problems with the Big Bang model: the flatness problem; the horizon problem; inflation.
Galaxy evolution: star formation history of the Universe; evolution in AGN fraction; evolution in the morphology-density relation; cosmological simulations of galaxy formation.
After completing this module students are expected to be able to:
Describe and explain the structure of galaxies, their basic properties (morphologies and colours), and how these vary with environment.
Perform simple calculations and measurements of galaxy and AGN properties (e.g., magnitudes and colours, surface brightness and effective radius, redshift, black hole mass, etc.).
Analyse statistical data on galaxy populations (e.g., luminosity functions, morphological fractions).
Critically discuss the evidence for the existence of dark matter and explain its role in the evolution of the Universe.
Apply the Friedmann, fluid, and acceleration equations in order to determine the properties of simple cosmological models (e.g., closed or open universes; de Sitter models).
Discuss the evidence for the Big Bang model, and explain how model parameters are measured observationally.
Explain the origin of the cosmic microwave background and the light elements (nucleosynthesis).
Explain problems with the Big Bang model and how these are solved by the inflation scenario.
Describe the modern approach to understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies within the standard cosmological framework and the relation between simulations and observations.