2012 Winter Term, Caltech
Meets in 219 Cahill.
Homework help session: Sundays, 5:00pm starting Jan 15,
in 219 Cahill.,
or by appointment with the TA or instructor.
If you have an ID card with an RFID chip, you will just need to get
your UID entered in the Cahill access list: see Gina Armas in 246 Cahill.
If your ID card does not have an RFID chip, you will need to get a new one.
Prof: Sterl Phinney
esp [at] tapir . caltech . edu
Office hours: by appointment
TAs: Sebastian Pineda
Cahill 264, extension 3030
jspineda [at] astro . caltech . edu
Office hours: 4-6pm Sunday or by appointment
Textbook's website (errata, computer programs, data, links) is
This is the same book used in Ay 20 for the last several years, so
most Ay 21 students should already own it (which is
why I am recommending it for Ay 21).
If you do not already have it, you can buy the version that is
only the extragalactic part, or you can borrow a copy.
- An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics (2nd Edition, 2007)
- by Bradley Carroll and Dale Ostlie
- ISBN 978-0805304022
- (Pearson/Addison Wesley/Benjamin Cummings)
This was also recommended for Ay 20 last term. The cosmology
is basic and very concise, and we will go into more depth, but
it provides a nice introduction.
- Astrophysics in a Nutshell
- by Dan Maoz
- ISBN 978-0-691-12584-8
- (Princeton University Press)
Other useful references:
Covers the smooth universe (no galaxies or stars!) at undergrad level
in only 156 pages!
- An Introduction to Modern Cosmology (2nd Edition, 2003)
- by Andrew Liddle
Out of date in all the observations, but still unsurpassed for the
clarity of the exposition of the physics.
[the library has 5 copies]
- Physical Cosmology (1971)
- by P.J.E. Peebles
- (Princeton U. Press)
- Historical Introduction
- Galaxies: properties, distributions
- Distance Scale, Cosmography I
- Equations governing the expanding universe, Cosmography II
- Physics of the (Moderately) Early Universe,
- The hot big bang: nucleosythesis, Cosmic Microwave Background
- Formation of structure. Links to movies of simulations
Millenium DM, Dubinski DM,
Via Lactea DM,
Milky Way gas/stars (link
a real paper on the latest large DM simulation
Bolshoi and some
from it and the whole repository.
with stars and gas. Reviews of cosmology:
- Clusters of Galaxies, The cosmic web and IGM
- Active Galactic Nuclei
- Supermassive Black holes and galaxy co-evolution
- Ultra-high energy cosmic rays, neutrinos and gravitational waves
- Gravitational lensing, weak and strong
- First light: the reionization Era
- Physics(?) of the Very Early Universe: Inflation, gravitational waves,
HOMEWORK, GRADING and COLLABORATION POLICY
There will be approximately weekly homework sets (with an option
to replace any two by a 4-page term paper: see below),
an open textbook midterm, and a closed-book final exam.
You may optionally write a 4-page paper on any subject in
cosmology, which can replace (in grade) any two homework sets of your choosing.
However, if you think you wish to exercise this option, you must hand in,
at the latest with your midterm, an outline of this paper,
listing the subject, the scope,
and at least 3 primary references (with page numbers) which you intend
to use for the research in the paper. The instructor will determine
if the proposed topic and references are suitable, and provide guidance
if they are not.
Your grade will be a monotonic function of
the following combination of homework(+paper if chosen),
midterm and final scores
g = [0.55(sum of homework scores)/(total possible)
+0.2(score on midterm)/(total possible)
+0.25(score on final)/(total possible)].
HOMEWORK There will be approximately weekly homework sets
Tuesday's class, one week after they are
posted on this website (see homework link at left). Late homework
will not be accepted except by prior arrangement (see below).
The problem sets
are intended to be fun. Therefore, if you spend more than 1/2 hour
on any problem, and still feel lost, come see one of us for preparation
suggestions or a hint.
Graded homework will be returned in class. Dead homework may be
collected from a box outside TBD Cahill.
LATE HOMEWORK POLICY: Homework extensions of up to 24 hours can be
granted by the TA. Longer extensions can only be
approved by Sterl. No late homework will be accepted unless one of
these prior arrangements has been made. Unapproved late homework will
not be graded.
In working the homework sets, you may consult your own class notes
(which must be written in your own hand from lecture or
those of another student; they may not be xerox or scanned copies),
and any textbooks required
or recommended for this class or any other reference books you find
please state which you use, if you do use books which are not the texts).
You may also use calculator or a computer to do numeric and symbolic
calculations, or as a word processor.
During the midterm, you may use only your own class notes, your own
and official homework solutions, the course's one
required and one recommended text, and a calculator.
During the closed-book final, you may not consult any texts, computers or
people. You may use a calculator.
Collaboration on the homework is limited.
At no stage may you look at solutions to the problems you might
find on friend's desks, on websites, filing cabinets, ftp sites, etc.
first try every homework problem BY YOURSELF.
without external help. This is the educational part.
exchanges of information are strictly forbidden -you may not trade
equations, graphs, or look at other people's solution sets from this
or any prior year or similar courses at other universities.
You may consult books and published papers to learn or remind
yourself of relevant physics or astronomy.
The texts are recommended as a first source. Please do read the
suggested readings before starting the homework.
If you get stuck, you can TALK about the homework with the TA or your
fellow students, but all exchanges of information must be general in
nature and either exchanged verbally, or with modern replacements for
talking (i.e. texting, IMing and emailing is ok too, as long as details are
avoided -see below). For example the following QandA is ok
Q: "I got a mean density of the universe today of 1000 grams per cubic
centimeter. That seems high.
A: "Yup, sure is. Whoa -did you say here a galaxy is 10,000 cm in
diameter? Isn't it more like 10,000 parsecs?
The following one is NOT OK: Q: "I'm stuck on problem
2. Can you help me?" A: "Sure. You take equation 3.12 of this book,
insert equations 2.5 and 3.2, integrate and you should get the right
answer which is V k squared over pi squared".
discussion with others, you must write up your own homework
by yourself, without
reference to anyone else's.
In real research, no one else knows the answer to the problems you
work on (otherwise why would you be doing them?), so the most
important thing you can learn from homework is how to think and solve
for yourself, and be confident in your answers.