ASTR 420 Spring 2015 Observational Cosmology: Observing and Modeling the Universe (Q)

Recent astronomical observations have revealed that the universe contains large amounts of dark matter (most probably consisting of undetected yet very-weakly-interacting particles) and dark energy (a strange kind of uniformly-distributed energy that creates negative pressure causing accelerated expansion of the universe), while ordinary radiating matter (stars, galaxies and clouds of gas) is only a minor addition. In this course we will discuss the most important observations that lead us to these conclusions. We will start by studying and classifying galaxies. Eighty years ago Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding and 20 years later Gamow proposed the Big Bang model of the evolution of the universe. We will discuss observational data that support the Big Bang model, concentrating on the microwave background radiation and its properties, along with the process of primordial nucleosynthesis. Recent observational data indicate that at a very early stage of evolution the universe passed through a phase of very rapid exponential expansion called "inflation." We will develop and discuss the Standard Cosmological Model that describes the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to its present state. In particular we will discuss the early phases of radiation-dominated evolution and the late process of structure formation. Finally we will concentrate on the observations indicating that the universe is now dominated by dark matter and dark energy.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on classroom participation, homework assignments, a midterm exam and a final exam
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Prerequisites: PHYS 201 or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preference: if overenrolled, preference will be given to Astronomy and Astrophysics majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division III,Quantitative and Formal Reasoning
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Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 12
Class Number: 3036
ASTR 420 - 01 (S) LEC Observational Cosmology (Q) Division 3: Science and MathematicsQuantitative and Formal Reasoning Marek Demianski
TF 1:10 PM-2:25 PM 3036
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