ASTR 620: Galaxies

ASTR 620 is a PhD-level course on galaxies: what they look like, how they form, and how they evolve. What sets this course apart is that it is highly interactive. A significant part of lectures and homeworks are based on a set of Jupyter notebooks (stored in this github, based on Andrey Kravtsov’s notebooks). Some large data files are stored in the this web directory, along with a sample syllabus.

The course begins with a hands-on exploration of data from the SDSS galaxy survey. The goal is both to get a sense of the galaxy population and to practice analyzing large observational datasets. The second part of the course is a tour of the theory of galaxy formation, from quantum fluctuations in the early Universe to the spectra of stellar populations in galaxies.

Galaxies from SDSS survey

The third and final part of the course dives into some topics in galaxy evolution and dynamics, including building an entire model of galaxy evolution and comparing it to observations.

Given the importance of coding for the course, some prior experience in python is helpful, but not a pre-requisite. The coding exercises are designed to build skills that are useful for astronomy in general, such as plotting, data processing, solving equations, integration, and solving ODEs.