Syllabus for PHYS 480002/581004 Advanced Topics: Observational
Cosmology
Instructor: Dinesh Loomba
This
class is a full 3 credit course and can serve as a
A480 elective for undergraduates.
Meeting times: The class will meet on T, Th from
12:301:45 in Rm 5.
Office Hours: Wednesdays 9:30 – 10:30AM in room 131.
Book(s): None required but below is a list of books which I will use as references for my lectures.
 The Early Universe by Kolb and Turner

Physical Cosmology by Peebles

Galaxy Formation by Longair

Modern Cosmology by Dodelson

Theoretical Astrophysics I, II, II, a 3 volume set by Padmanabhan

Structure Formation in the Universe by Padmanabhan

Cosmological Physics by Peacock

Cosmology by Steven Weinberg

Cosmology by Ryden (an undergrad text)
Prequirements:
Undergrads: The following courses will help
301 (Thermo), 366 (Math Methods), 405 (E&M), and 491 (QM)
Graduate
Students: none but I'm assuming you are at or above the level of the courses
listed above.
Cosmology
is a subject that requires a wide knowledge of physics and math, so it is
difficult to specify prerequisites in terms of specific courses. A
senior undergraduate or beginning graduate student should have sufficient knowledge
(or be willing to do some self study) to take this course.
Preliminary outline of the course:
The
course will be divided into roughly 5 parts:
I)
The RobertsonFriedmanWalker Model of the
universe. We will begin by postulating that the Universe is isotropic and
homogeneous. This will lead us to the RobertsonWalker metric
which we will use to constrain both the geometry and, at low redshift,
the dynamics of the Universe. Next we will write down the solutions to
Einstein's General Relativity which fully describe the
dynamics of a homogeneous and isotropic Universe. We will examine these
solutions (the Friedman Equations) and consider the various allowable
cosmological world models which can result.
Possible tests of which of these models is our Universe will be discussed.
II) Big
Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN). This is generally
touted as one of the great successes of Big Bang cosmology (it is one of the 3
"pillar" on which the theory stands). We will describe the
epoch in the early universe when protons and neutrons are made into deuterium,
the 2 isotopes of helium, and some lithium 7. We will see how the
abundances of these various elements depend on one parameter, the present
matter density in baryons (i.e., protons, neutrons), within the assumptions of
BBN. We will compare the predicted abundances with data and find
constraints on the baryon density.
III) Cosmic
Microwave Background Radiation (CMB). This is the other
"pillar" on which the Big Bang stands. We will discuss, at
various levels of detail, the physics of the CMB epoch. The properties of
the CMB (temperature, anisotropies, etc) are one of
the most precisely measured quantities of the early universe. We will
discuss what constraints the measurements place BOTH on what comes later in
time  structure formation  as well as what took place earlier, e.g.,
inflation. We will also see that the CMB data now provide independent
constraints on the baryon density and show that these are consistent with the
BBN prediction.
IV) Structure
formation. During this part we will attempt to connect the early universe
constraints from the CMB, BBN, inflation, etc, with
what we observe today: galaxies, clusters of galaxies, superclusters,
etc.
V)
Special Topics. These might include: dark
matter; gravitational lensing; SunyaevZeldovich
effect; and possibly topics of the very early universe such as bariogenesis, phasetransitions, inflation; and
others. This part provides me a buffer in case parts IIV require more
time. This part also provides the students a chance to have input on what
they'd like to hear (tell me soon!).
As
noted above, this is a rough list of topics. We can spend more time on a
few of these if there's interest, or include others not on the list.
Grade:
The
final grade will consist of the following three things:
a)
Homeworks 40%. Approximately
68 homework sets over the semester.
b)
A midterm exam 25%
c)
Final Project 35%. A final project involving a term
paper. I will ask that students meet with me to discuss the topic of
their term paper and to turn in a brief outline. Depending on time and
number of students enrolled in the course, I may devote several lectures to
short talks given by students on their final paper topic.
I
could be convinced of a final project in theoretical cosmology; however, I
would urge you to pick something that has observational consequences (i.e., it
should be a testable theory) and, if you go this route, it better be good!
Besides
the three official contributions to your grade listed above, the following will
help you but not hurt you:
d)
During class I may suggest a problem for extra credit.
e)
Oftentimes questions will be raised during classtime that I won't answer to
everyone's satisfaction. Students who, by whatever means, return with
additional information that sheds light on the subject will be duly rewarded!
f)
Students are strongly encouraged to ask questions, express skepticism, start
discussions, and in general actively participate in the course. If there
is a single motto to follow in this course, it is that there are no
"dumb" questions! If you don't ask, you won't learn so please
don't be shy.
NOTES:
6Feb_18 – Notes on geometry/curvature
HOMEWORKS:
HW 1, Due Feb 6 IN CLASS
HW 2, Due Feb 15 IN CLASS
HW 3, Due Feb 27 IN CLASS