Relativistic Astrophysics and Cosmology

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Elements of general relativity. Physics of pulsars, cosmic rays, black holes. The cosmological distance scale, elementary cosmological models, properties of galaxies and quasars. The mass density and age of the universe. Evidence for dark matter and dark energy and concepts of the early universe and of galaxy formation. Reflections on astrophysics as a probe of the extrema of physics.


Topics by Date

The Smooth Universe

(Tu, Jan. 19) The Cosmological Principle; Hubble parameter H; scale factor a [Ch 1,2]

  • intro to our universe
  • class mechanics
    • syllabus
    • references
      • Liddle
      • Astrobaki
    • tools for figuring stuff out
      • theoretical derivation
      • order-of-magnitude estimation
      • physical intuition (hands-on modeling, analogies)
      • numerical simulation
    • programming
  • Activities
    • collaborative map of our universe
    • astrobaki

Friedmann equation; equation of state; radiation, matter, dark energy [Ch 3,4,5]

Density parameter Omega; open, flat, closed cosmological models [Ch 6]

Time evolution of H, Omega, and a [Ch 7]

Rudiments of general relativity; the Robertson-Walker metric [Ch 8, A1]

Basic kinematic properties: distance-redshift, time-redshift, age, angular sizes [A2]

The Bright Side

The Planck mass; the ugliest number in physics

Thermodynamics of Fermi and Bose gases in an expanding universe

The longest 3 minutes of your life

Big Bang Nucleosynthesis: helium, deuterium, lithium, baryon-to-photon ratio [Ch 12]

The Dark Side=

Evidence for dark matter [Ch 9]

Evidence for dark energy

Two dark matter problems: baryonic vs non-baryonic

What can they be?

The Lumpy Universe

Gravitational instability in a static universe

Gravitational instability in an expanding universe

Growth of cosmic structures

Photon-baryon scattering physics; the cosmic microwave background [Ch 10, A5]

The Baby Universe

Successes of the standard Big Bang model [Ch 11]

Problems of the standard Big Bang model [Ch 13]

How to fix it? Inflation

Black Holes

Supermassive black holes at centers of galaxies 6.2 Gravity waves: sources: binary black holes

Gravity waves: detection

Selected Topics (student presentations)