Physics and astronomy
Introduction to Cosmology
Module code: 900F3
Level 7 (Masters)
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Workshop, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework, Unseen examination
This module covers:
- Observational Overview: in visible light and other wavebands; the cosmological principle; the expansion of the universe; particles in the universe.
- Newtonian Gravity: the Friedmann equation; the fluid equation; the aceleration equation.
- Geometry: flat, spherical and hyperbolic; infinite vs. observable universes; introduction to topology
- Cosmological Models: solving equations for matter and radiation dominated expansions and for mixtures (assuming flat geometry and zero cosmological constant); variation of particle number density with scale factor; variation of scale factor with time and geometry.
- Observational Parameters: Hubble, density, deceleration.
- Cosmological Constant: fluid description; models with a cosmological constant.
- The Age of the Universe: tests; model dependence; consequences
- Dark Matter: observational evidence; properties; potential candidates (including MACHOS, neutrinos and WIMPS)
- The Cosmic Microwave Background: properties; derivation of photo to baryon ratio; origin of CMB (including decoupling and recombination).
- The Early Universe: the epoch of matter-radiation equality; the relation between temperature and time; an overview of physical properties and particle behaviour.
- Nucleosynthesis: basics of light element formation; derivation of percentage, by mass, of Helium; introduction to observational tests; contrasting decoupling and nucleosynthesis.
- Inflation: definition; three problems (what they are and how they can be solved); estimation of expansion during Inflation; contrasting early time and current inflationary epochs; introduction to cosmological constant problem and quintessence.
- Initial Singularity: definition and implications.
- Connection to General Relativity: brief introduction to Einstein equations and their relation to the Friedmann equation.
- Cosmological Distance Scales: proper, luminosity, angular distances; connection to observables.
- Structures in the Universe: CMB anisotropies; galaxy clustering
- Constraining Cosmology: connection to CMB, large scale structure (inc BAO and weak lensing) and supernovae.
Module learning outcomes
- Be able to derive the equations describing the expansion of the Universe, and find its predicted expansion rate for a variety of circumstances.
- Understand the evidence supporting key elements of the Concordance Cosmology model (including for Dark Energy and Inflation).