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galaxy cluster ms 0735.6+7421

Galaxy Cluster MS 0735.6+7421 (NASA, ESA, McNamara)

TTh 11:00-12:15 · RLM 5.104 · Unique No. 49500


Gregory Shields

RLM 15.224 · (512) 471-1402 · email

Courses - Fall '09  |  Course Website

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--Printable syllabus (pdf)

Course Description

What are the stars? How old are they, how were they born, and when will they die? How does our Milky Way compare to other galaxies? How did the Universe begin and how did it evolve into its present form? What processes led to the formation of stars and planets? What is the future of the solar system, the Galaxy, and the universe? Are we alone in the universe?

These questions fascinate everyone. Astronomers have some answers, but many questions remain. This course gives a survey of modern astronomy. Topics include the solar system, exoplanets, stars, interstellar gas, galaxies, quasars, the Big Bang, dark matter and dark energy, and life in the universe. The goals are to leave the student with a picture of our place in the universe and a foundation in the use of observational technique and physical laws to understand nature.

Lectures will be illustrated with images and videos. Mathematics will include high school algebra but no calculus. Some homework assignments may involve nighttime observations.

Prerequisite. Math 305G or equivalent

Instructor. Professor Gregory Shields. Office: RLM 15.224. Phone: 471-1402. E-mail: Office Hours (subject to change): MW 3-4 pm, Th 2-3 pm Web page:

Teaching Assistant: Mr. Paul Robertson. Office: RLM 16.340. Phone: 471-4475 E-mail: Office Hours: (subject to change): MW 2-3 pm Help sessions: M 5-6 pm in RLM 15.216B

Grading: The course grade will be based on three one-hour exams in class, and homework. (No final exam.) Exams will be closed book and will involve both multiple choice and essay questions. Exams will cover lectures, assigned reading, and homework. Make-up tests will not be given except for a compelling reason presented in advance or in case of illness. Exam weights and tentative dates are:

First exam


Tu 9/29

Second exam


Tu 11/3

Third exam


Tu 12/1

Homework will count 30%, based on grading of selected problems from homework sets.

Help sessions. Some of the lecture before each exam will be devoted to reviewing the material on the exam. Additional help sessions will be scheduled for help with the homework and class material.

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