PHYS 755 Properties and Evolution of Galaxies

Syllabus, Spring 2006

Prerequisites: Consent of the Professor. The course assumes background in classical mechanics and basic astrophysics.

Professor: Varsha P. Kulkarni ; Office: PSC, Room 505 ; Phone : 777-6293, E-mail:;


Lecture Hours: Tu., Th. 1:00-2:15 pm, PSC 505

Textbook: “Galaxies in the Universe: An Introduction” by Linda S. Sparke and John S. Gallagher, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Other Useful References:

“Galactic Astronomy” by James Binney and Michael Merrifield, Princeton University Press, 1998

Selected journal articles will also be discussed.

Goals: The goal of this graduate course is to give students an overview of some of the key concepts in astrophysics of galaxies.

Course structure: The students will learn the material through a combination of classroom lectures, assigned readings, discussions, and student seminars. Student seminars will be approximately 30 min. long with 20 min. for discusssion. Topics of all reading assignments and student seminars will be assigned so as to maintain a logical and sequential development of the topics listed below.

Grading Basis: The grades will be determined as follows:

Reading/problem assignments and related discussions: 50%

4 Student seminars: 10% each

Class participation: 10%

Tentative List of Main Topics to be Covered:

Introduction to Galaxies: Review of stars and stellar evolution, photometry basics, coordinate systems, review of early history of galaxies

The Milky Way: Structure, stellar populations, rotation, motions of Stars

The Local Group Galaxies: Magellanic Clouds, Andromeda, other LG galaxies, formation of LG

Spiral Galaxies: Stars, gas, spiral Structure, bulges

Large-scale Distribution of Galaxies: clusters, walls, voids, formation of structure

Active Galaxies and Distant Galaxies: Quasars, high-redshift galaxies, Lyman-break galaxies, quasar absorber galaxies etc.

Some examples of reading assignments / seminar topics:

Freeman, K. 2002, The New Galaxy: Signatures of its Formation, ARAA, 40, 487

Sandage A. 2005, The classification of galaxies: early history and ongoing developments, ARAA,43, 581

Kormendy, J., & Kennicutt, R. 2004, Secular Evolution and the Formation of Pseudo-bulges in Galaxies, ARAA, 42, 603

Sofue, Y., & Rubin, V. 2001, Rotation Curves of Spiral Galaxies, ARAA, 39, 137

Impey, C. & Bothun, G. 1997, Low Surface Brightness Galaxies, ARAA, 35, 267

Ellis, R. S. 1997, Faint Blue Galaxies, ARAA, 35, 389

Ferguson, H. C., Dickinson, M., & Williams, R. E. 2000, The Hubble Deep Fields, ARAA, 38, 667

Giavalisco M. 2002, Lyman-break galaxies, ARAA, 40, 579