Introduction to Stars, Galaxies, & the Universe
Prof. Richard Pogge, MTWThF 9:30
Lecture 1: Course Introduction & Overview
The first part of the class will be devoted to a
brief overview of the contents of the Course
Syllabus. This covers everything you need to know about how the
course will be conducted.
This will be followed by a brief overview of the topics of the course,
and a quick tour of the Universe from our classroom out into the
furthest reaches of space.
The practice of Astronomy often comes down to addressing three broad
questions about a phenomenon, in this order:
- 1) What is it?
- Describe it: how bright is it, how far away, what is it made of, ...
- 2) How does it work?
- Underlying physics (testable theories).
- 3) How does it evolve?
- How did it form, how will it develop over time?
The Challenges of Astronomy:
The study of astronomy presents us with a number of challenges compared
to other sciences:
- We cannot touch what we are studying
- We can only make observations from a distance
- Vast, unbridgable distances
- Makes it hard to measure distances accurately
- Sometimes makes it hard to measure distances at all!
- Long times (millions & billions of years)
- Reconstruct histories by studying the properties of
"populations" of objects, rather than individual objects
- Use the idea of cosmic "lookback" time: distance=time
Main Topics for Astronomy 162:
This course will be an exploration of four broad topics:
For each topic, we will seek answers to all three of the basic questions
- Structure & Evolution of Stars
- Structure & Evolution of Galaxies
- Structure & Evolution of the Universe as a whole
- Frontiers of Modern Astronomy
Structure & Evolution of Stars
- Observed properties of stars
- distances, motions, brightness, temperature, etc.
- Physics of stars
- internal structure
- energy sources
- Stellar Evolution
- formation, development, and final states of stars
Structure & Evolution of Galaxies
- Observed properties of Galaxies
- distances, sizes, shapes
- constituents (stars, gas, and dark matter)
- environments (groups and clusters of galaxies)
- Physics of Galaxies
- structure and dynamics of galaxies.
- Evolution of Galaxies
- star formation histories
- interactions with other galaxies
Structure & Evolution of the Universe
- Observed Characteristics of the Universe
- size, age, constituents
- Physics of the Universe
- space, time, and gravitation
- Evolution of the Universe
- origin of the Universe
- development (Big Bang Model)
- ultimate fate of the Universe
Frontiers of Modern Astronomy
The final section of the course will be a week-long exploration of new,
interesting, and emerging topics.
Possible questions to explore:
The exact topics have not been chosen yet, sometimes they choose
themselves as new discoveries emerge while the class is in progress.
- What is Dark Matter and Dark Energy?
- Is the expansion of the Universe accelerating?
- Can we travel in Time?
- Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?
- What new telescopes are coming online?
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Updated: 2006 January 2
Copyright © Richard W. Pogge,
All Rights Reserved.