Homepage for 171.697 (Spring 2012): Particle Astrophysics

Instructor:      Marc Kamionkowski    
                        Bloomberg 439
                        kamion AT pha.jhu.edu

Class times:    Mon,Fri,  2:45-4:00pm   in  Bloomberg 278

Class description:  
Basics of physical cosmology, early-Universe cosmology, and particle astrophysics.  We will begin with the standard Friedmann-Robertson-Walker model and classical cosmological tests, and then move on to subjects in physical cosmology (large-scale structure, the cosmic microwave background, galaxy/cluster formation, etc.), early-Universe cosmology (inflation, phase transitions, big-bang nucleosynthesis, primordial relices, etc.), and particle astrophysics (particle dark matter, neutrino astrophysics, ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, etc.).  This class will survey a broad range of subjects of current research in cosmology and particle astrophysics, rather than delve deeply into any particular sub-subject.

Prerequisites:  Basic undergraduate physics and curiosity.  Those who have had general relativity may have some advantage in the class, but general relativity is not required for the class.

Homework: There will be problem sets assigned every week.  It is imperative that you work through these problem sets if you are serious about learning the subject.  Some of the problem sets may be long and/or difficult.  I make them that way so that the more ambitious students, and/or those who plan to make a living working in cosmology, have plenty to keep them busy.  If you find that the problem sets are too long and/or that you have other classes or research that are a higher priority for you, then try to work through at least a few problems each week.  Completion of all the homeworks will be required to pass this class.  And please try to complete them on time, and I will then try to provide solutions in a timely fashion.

Grade:     75% homework and 25% final exam.

Some possibly useful books (on reserve in the library): 

          Note:  There are lots of good books on cosmology or various aspects, but this class will not follow any individual book.  I am therefore reluctant to "require" any particular book or to suggest that you buy any in particular.  These are all books worth owning, although which of these you choose to buy may depend on your particular interests.

           Principles of Physical Cosmology (P. J. E. Peebles):  The discussion of classical cosmological tests is particularly nice.  The second half of the book has excellent plain-English discussions of a variety of subjects in physical cosmology (where I first learned a lot of these subjects).

           Galaxy Formation (M. S. Longair):  This book works well as a textbook that focuses primarily on large-scale structure and galaxy formation

           Cosmological Physics (J. Peacock):  This book is also particularly strong in large-scale structure and galaxy formation

           The Early Universe (E. W. Kolb and M. S. Turner):  This is a classic, although a bit out of date.  The discussions of relic particles and big-bang nucleosynthesis are particularly nice (and where I learned much of the subject!)           

           Modern Cosmology (S. Dodelson):   This is an excellent book that focuses primarily on the physics of cosmic microwave background fluctuations.  The first chapters are likely to be useful for this class, but much of the later parts of the book go into more detail than we will.

          Cosmology (Weinberg):  This is a great book that goes into great detail in a number of areas.  The first chapters may be appropriate for this class, but some of the later chapters go into more detail on cosmological perturbations than we will.

           Physical Foundations of Cosmology (Mukhanov):  Many students like the discussion of inflation and primordial perturbations.  Again, there are good introductory parts that may be useful for this class, but some of the later parts go into more detail than we will.


NOTES (Note that these are provided with no guarantees; they are not proofread very carefully, and mistakes have certainly crept in, there may be omissions, etc.  Use at your own risk!):

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Weeks 11-12

Week 13


Problem Set 1 (due first class of week 2)

Problem Set 2 (due first class of week 3)

Problem Set 3 (due first class of week 4)

Problem Set 4 (due first class of week 5)

Problem Set 5 (due first class of week 6)

Problem Set 6 (due first class of week 7; note that this has been changed 3/9/12; the old problem set was not the right one)

Problem Set 7 (due first class of week 8)

Problem Set 8 (due first class of week 9)

Problem Set 9 (due first class of week 10)

Problem Set 10/11 (due first class of week 12)

Problem Set 12 (due first class of week 13)
Problem Set 13 (due Monday after classes end)

Last updated 4/30/2012