Astronomy 541 -- Cosmology

University of Arizona, Fall 2018


Course Summary

This course will study cosmology, beginning with the fundamentals of modern cosmology, Friedmann Equations, to cosmological tests and cosmological parameters, to hot big bang theory and CMB, structure formation and large scale structure of the universe, to early galaxy formation, cluster of galaxies and gravitational lensing.

Class Schedule:

Regular lectures: Mon/Wed/Fri 2pm - 2:50pm SO 204

Office Hours: Wed 11am - 12pm or by appointment


Prof. Xiaohui Fan

Office: Steward 340

Phone: 626-7558


Web site


Homework 67%, In-class, closed-book Final Exam 33%. We will drop the lowest homework grade.

The final is Wed, Dec 12, from 1pm - 3pm.

Homework Assignments

While we recognize that people often study in groups, we expect homework solutions to represent each individual's independent work.

Many of the problems to be assigned we have assigned to past Astro 541 or 400B classes. It is not permitted to look at solution keys or student solution sets from past semesters, and you are on your honor not to do so.

Homework assignments will generally be roughly every two weeks and are due on Fridays. There will be 7 homework assignments in total.

Late Assignments

Homework will be due in class on the due date. Anything turned in after that time will be considered late. Late assignments turned in before the next class period (usually Monday) will receive 75% credit. Assignments turned in after that will receive no credit. Some exceptions can be made for extraordinary circumstances - e.g. observing runs or out-of-town travels.

Suggested Text

Galaxy Formation, 2nd Edition, by Malcolm Longair. This book covers many topics to moderate depth and with modern notation. The second edition considerably expands the discussion of recent observations.

Other References

Cosmological Physics, by Peacock. A new graduate-level book on cosmology. It's harder than Longair and it wanders off onto topics (e.g. field theory) that we're not going to need. The last few chapters, on cosmological perturbations, are very good.

Principles of Physical Cosmology, by Peebles. Slightly older (early 90's) and overly complete, this is not a good first book on cosmology, but it's really useful once you know what you're looking for (and where to find it).

Galaxy Formation and Evolution, by Mo, van den Bosch and White. A new and comprehensive text with excellent coverage on galaxy properties and galaxy formation (this is also your galaxy class AST540 textbook).

Order of Topics

  1. Week 1 (0820, 22, 24): Introduction, Cosmological Principles

  2. Week 2 (0827, 29, 31): Cosmological Measurements HM 1 assigned

  3. Week 3 (0905, 07): Friedmann Equations, HM1 due

  4. Week 4 (0910, 12, 14): Cosmological Tests, HM 2 assigned

  5. Week 5 (0917, 19, 21): Guest Lectures by Krause, Perturbation, DES, HM 2 due (no class on 0921)

  6. Week 6 (0924, 26, 28): No Class

  7. Week 7 (1001, 03, 05): Thermal History, Big Bang, HM 3 assigned

  8. Week 8 (1008, 10, 12): Guest Lectures by Eifler on LSST (1008, 1010);  Growth of structure, HM 3 due

  9. Week 9 (1015, 17, 19):  Peculiar velocity, Large Scale Structure, HM 4 assigned

  10. Week 10 (1022, 24, 26): Large Scale Structure, CMB, HM 4 due

  11. Week 11 (1029, 31, 1102): CMB, HM 5 assigned

  12. Week 12 (1105, 07, 09): Spherical Collapse, Press-Schechter, HM 5 due

  13. Week 13 (1114, 16): Clusters, First Galaxies, HM 6 assigned

  14. Week 14 (1119): First Galaxies (no class on 1121)

  15. Week 15 (1126, 28, 30): Reionization, IGM, HM 6 due, HM 7 assigned

  16. Week 16 (1203, 05): Gravitational Lensing , HM 7 due