ASTR 688
Observational Cosmology

Spring 2002
MW 2-3:15 PM
CSS 0201

Prof. Stacy McGaugh
office: 1251 CSS
phone: (301) 405-7897

Suggested Texts
Principles of
Physical Cosmology

P.J.E. Peebles

J.A. Peacock


This course will

Course Work

There will be

The class project will be a debate of the values of the fundamental cosmic parameters.
You will each investigate an observational constraint of your choosing from a list I will provide. You will report on it to the class, both in writing and in an oral presentation. After all presentations are complete, we will as a group debate what it all means.

Course Outline

Historical perspective: cosmologies of ancient and medieval peoples
Overview of the genesis of modern cosmology in General Relativity

Cosmological Essentials
Simple Newtonian Cosmology
The Robertson-Walker metric and Friedmann models
Empirical Pillars of modern cosmology
Cosmological Parameters: H0, t, O, q, L, T(CMBR), Yp, Ob, CDM

The Size scale of the Universe
The Hubble relation
The expansion rate (H0) and age (t) of the Universe

The Age of the Universe
Globular Cluster ages
White dwarf age limits
Radioactive decay and interstellar grain limits

The density parameter
The role of density parameter (O) in specifying world model
Importance of O to H0 and t
Relation of O to deceleration parameter (q) and cosmological constant (L )
Measures of O, q, and L

Primordial Nucleosynthesis
Photon to baryon ratio (entropy)
Abundances of the light elements: Yp, D/H, Li/H
Entropy and the density of baryons (Ob)

Cosmic Microwave Background
Anisotropy and T(CMBR)
Structure formation and fluctuations in the CMBR

The Mass Discrepancy Problem
Cosmological and dynamical motivations
The need for cold dark matter (CDM)
Alternative possibilities: MACHOs, MOND, etc.

Alternative world models
as time permits