Syllabus for PHYS
581002 Advanced Topics: Observational Cosmology
Instructor: Dinesh
Loomba
This
class is a full 3 credit course and can serve as a A4XX elective for
undergraduates.
Meeting
times: The
class will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:301:45.
Office
Hours:
to be decided after first meeting.
Book(s): None required but below
is a list of books which I will use as references for my lectures. I will try to put as many of these on
reserve at Centennial.

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
I
will ask the library to put these on reserve.
Prequirements:
Undergrads:
301
(Thermo), 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 prequisites 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 will 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.
What
will be required of students:
The
final grade will consist of equal contributions from the following three things:
a)
Homeworks (approximately 67 sets; i.e., about 1 set every 2 weeks)
b)
A midterm exam
c)
A final project involving a term paper and, 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 will discuss the project in more detail once the course
begins.
I
could be convinced by a student 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 the job done 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 won't be answered to
everyone's satisfaction. Students
who, by whatever means, return with additional information that sheds light on
the subject will be duly noted!
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.