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Astronomy 688 - Spring 2008
cm Instructor

Prof. Massimo Ricotti
Office: CSS 0213
Phone: (301) 405 5097
Office hours: by appointment
Class web page:$\sim$ricotti/NEWWEB/teaching/ASTR688s08.html


Lectures on Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30pm to 1:45pm
Room CSS 0201

Course Description

The evolution of the Universe from the Big-Bang to the era of stars and galaxies. The course is divided in two main parts. Part I: the linear evolution of the Universe. Part II: the non-linear growth of perturbations and galaxy formation. Part I covers (i) Inflation, (ii) baryogenesis, (iii) thermal history and neutrino decoupling, (iv) nucleosysnthesis, (v) recombination and radiation decoupling, (vi) CMB radiation, (vii) growth of cosmological perturbation, (viii) CMB anisotropies. Part II covers: (i) measuring cosmological parameters, (ii) Large scale structure and galaxy formation.


Required: ``Cosmology'' by Peter Coles and Francesco Lucchin
Recommended: ``Cosmological Inflation and Large-Scale Structure'' by Andrew R. Liddle, David H. Lyth

Course Grading

Homework 25%
Project 15%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 30%

There will be one in-class Midterm exam and an in-class Final (the dates of the exams are shown below in the ``Tentative course outline'' section). Class participation is strongly encouraged. Class attendance is required. During the semester I will hand out 4-5 homework. Their due dates will be announced at the time they are assigned. On the due date the students will be expected to turn in their homework in class. Each of you will write a review paper or a web page on a cosmology topic of your choice. At the end of the semester you will give a short presentation.

Letter Grades

85%-100% A
70%-85% B
55%-70% C
40%-55% D

I may rescale the grades depending on the average class performance. The rescaling can only increase your final grade. According to the class preference the final letter grade may have a finer division. In this case I will assign A$^+$ if your score is between 100%-95%, A if your score is 95%-90% and A$^{-}$ if your score is 90%-85%. Analogously for the other letter grades.

Code of Academic Integrity

"The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit"


Tentative Course Outline - 28 lectures & 2 exams
cm Part I: Linear Universe - 19 lectures

A. Era of ``non-standard'' particle physics - 5 lectures

  1. Tu Jan. 29: Foundations of Cosmology (CL 1.1-1.3 and Ch.3)
  2. Th Jan. 31: Friedman-Leimatrie Cosmology, Hubble law, redshift (CL 1.4-1.7, 1.10-1.13 and Ch.2)
  3. Tu Feb. 5: Inflation (CL Ch.6 and Ch.7)
  4. Th Feb. 7: Perturbations from inflation (CL 13.6 D Ch.6)
  5. Tu Feb. 12 : Reheating and Baryogenesis (CL 7.4)

B. Era of ``standard'' particle physics - 10 lectures

  1. Th Feb. 14: Kinetic theory in the expanding universe (CL 8.1-8.5; D 3.1)
  2. Tu Feb. 19: Equilibrium thermodynamic, neutrino decoupling, non-baryonic matter (CL 8.2-8.5; D 3.4)
  3. Th Feb. 21: Thermal history (CL Ch.5)
  4. Tu Feb. 26: Primordial Nucleosynthesis (CL 8.6; D 3.2)
  5. Th Feb. 28: CMB part I: spectrum of radiation (1)
  6. Tu Mar. 4: CMB part I: spectrum of radiation (2)
  7. Th Mar. 6: Recombination and decoupling (1)
  8. Tu Mar. 11: Recombination and decoupling (2)
  9. Th Mar. 13: Midterm exam
  10. Tu Mar. 18: Cosmological perturbations part I: non-relativistic limit (1)
  11. Th Mar. 20: Spring Break
  12. Tu Mar. 25: Spring Break
  13. Th Mar. 27: Cosmological perturbations part I: non-relativistic limit (2)

C. CMB anisotropies - 4 lectures

  1. Tu Apr. 1: Cosmological perturbations part II: relativistic treatment (1)
  2. Th Apr. 3: Cosmological perturbations part II: relativistic treatment (2)
  3. Tu Apr. 8: CMB part II: anisotropies (1)
  4. Th Apr. 10: CMB part II: anisotropies (2)

Part II: non-linear Universe (extragalactic astronomy) - 9 lectures

  1. Tu Apr. 15:CMB part III: beyond linear theory
  2. Th Apr. 17: Measuring cosmological parameters

D. Large scale structure and galaxy formation - 7 lectures

  1. Tu Apr. 22: Top-hat collapse
  2. Th Apr. 24: Large scale structure simulations and theory
  3. Tu Apr. 29: Press-Schechter formalism
  4. Th May 1: First stars and galaxies
  5. Tu May 6: Lyman alpha forest and reionization
  6. Th May 8: Density profile of dark matter halos
  7. Tu May 13: Unsolved problems
Final exam sometime between May 15-21: Official date is Tuesday, May 20 (1:30-3:30pm)

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Massimo Ricotti 2007-11-28