ASTR 5460, Fall 2015, Brotherton Instructor

Introduction to Cosmology

This is a graduate level class designed to provide the fundamentals of cosmology aimed at observational extragalactic astronomers. Other courses in our program will provide galaxy topics in detail.

Here is the syllabus.

Here is an old midterm (2011) for you to help prepare for the upcoming midterm.

Here is an old final (2011) for you to help prepare for the upcoming final exam.

Figures of Interest (will add to this during the semester):

Chapter 6 Figures.

Chapter 7 Figures.

Chapter 10 Figures.

Papers/Websites of Interest (will add to this during the semester):

Hubble (1929).

Freedman et al. (2001). (A modern update of the Hubble law.)

Zwicky 1937. (Analysis of the Coma cluster leads to the dark matter hypothesis.)

Clowe et al. (2006). (The bullet cluster is the smoking gun for dark matter.)

Penzias and Wilson 1965 -- the Nobel prize paper, and the Princeton group's explanation: Dicke et al. 1965.

Smoot et al. 1992 (First CMBR fluctuations).

Goldhaber et al. 2001 on time dilation in supernova light curves.

Loeb (1998) on a direct mesaurement of the cosmological expansion.

Hogg (1999) on distance measures and cosmological calculations.

Riess et al. (1998) on supernovas and acceleration.

Wayne Hu Cosmology Tutorials

Ned Wright Cosmology Calculator and FAQs

Bennet et al. (2012) Summary of WMAP Results.

Planck 2013: Overview of Products and Scientific Results and the Planck team page of papers.

Max's Cosmic Cinema

Line Fitting Papers:

Hogg et al. (2010). Akritas and Bershady (1996). Isobe et al. (1990). Regression Lines: More Than Meets the Eye.


Homework 1. Due Thursday Sep. 17 in class. Please read the website courtesy of John Huchra giving some history regarding the Hubble Constant: Your assignment, in addition to this reading, is to plot your own Hubble diagram and measure a Hubble constant. I don't care how you do this as long as you make a good effort and your write-up to accompany your plot explains what you did, how, and why. The goal is not to get the right answer, but to develop some independent research skills looking up astronomical values and exercising your own judgment. It will also let me gauge your current skill set and style. Put a reasonable effort into this, but don't shoot for perfection. I suggest that NASA ADS, NED, LaTeX, and SuperMongo may be useful. I'll provide suggestions, but I won't tell you how to do this. Good luck!

Homework 2. These are problems from chapter 2 and 3 from Ryden, due Thursday Sep. 24 in class.

Homework 3. These are problems from chapter 4 and 5 from Ryden, due Thursday Oct. 8th in class.

Homework 4. These are problems from chapter 6 from Ryden, plus an extra one, due Thursday Oct. 15th in class.

Homework 5. These are problems from chapters 7-8 from Ryden, due Thursday Nov. 5 in class. I'll post the research problem soon.

Homework 6, AKA the "last" homework. Some questions for chapters 9 and 10, due Thursday Dec. 10 in class.

Research Project: Can Quasars be calibrated as standard candles using their rest-frame ultraviolet spectra? Do quasars with nearly identical spectra have similarly nearly identical luminosities? Let's find out! Let's look at the C IV (restframe 1550 Angstroms) spectral region. Spectral properties in this region are known to correlate with black hole mass, accretion rate, metalicity, and orientation. We need to download SDSS DR 7 quasar spectra from the Schneider et al. (2010) quasar catalog. There are tens of thousands with the spectral region we want. We need to download these and determine some way to characterize spectral similarity. Then we need to see if the fluxes differ for objects at the same redshift, and, if not, we can look potentially look at differences with redshift and test cosmology. Some papers to consider:

Marziani and Sulentic: although it's something I considered a while back:

King et al:

Not calibrated luminosities, but the Loeb techqniue which may be of interest. Coasaniti et al:

Also an old classic: Wampler et al. (1984):

Links/items you might find of use (will be regularly updated):

Also helpful for the homework, and life/research in general, are a number of statistics packages. Freely available code from the Penn State Astrostatics group is available from their webpage.. Gaussfit, from the Texas astronomy statistics people, is available from their webpage.. Also, here at UW on the campus PCs you can use minitab. If you're interested writing your own codes, the Penn State papers/webpage is probably the place to get the equations with derivations, and is the best source for analyzing censored data. Gaussfit is a powerful, general fitting program. Minitab is probably the simplest for quick look analysis. Many people in the department swear by IDL, which Chip Kobulnicky will use in his grad class. Python is the new big thing.

Ned Wright's webpage which includes tutorials at a range of levels as well as his very useful javascript cosmology calculator.

Wayne Hu's webpage which includes great tutorials at a range of levels, and many of them!

An on-line source about LaTeX.

AASTeX website is your one-stop shopping for LaTeX templates (samples and downloads) and additional documentation.

A plotting package I particularly like is called Super Mongo. It is called from linux with "sm". The linked page has sm manuals, examples, and more.

An on-line resource you'll find useful is NED, which stands for NASA Extragalactic Database. It's good for finding out about individual objects as well as a source of review papers.

I use IRAF to do my data reduction and analysis. IRAF is documented in a number of places (as it different parts are written in a number of places). The usually most useful site, is from NOAO, and it has tutorials for basic CCD image/spectroscopy reductions.

NASA's Astrophysical Data System, or ADS, is very useful, primarily as a way to look up papers online. Suggested exercise: look up the papers by the astronomers in the department.

Astronomy Picture of the Day is a great webpage to visit every day.

So is the astro-ph preprint server.