TTh 2-3:15 · WEL 3.502 · Unique No. 47705

quasar pair

Quasar Pair (Chandra)


Raphael Flauger

RLM 9.301 · · · email

Courses - Fall '10

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Course Description

How did the universe begin? How did the fiery gases of the Big Bang collect into "island universes" like our own Milky Way, even as the universe as a whole was expanding into the frigid emptiness of today? What processes led to the formation of stars, planets, and life? Where do we go from here?

This course presents modern observations and theories of the structure and evolution of the universe. Topics include the evidence for the Big Bang, the formation of galaxies, and the nature of quasars. We trace the evolution of the universe from the first moment through the creation of the primeval fireball radiation and the birth and evolution of galaxies. We examine the rich variety of observations of quasars, the evidence for giant black holes, the accelerating universe, dark matter, and dark energy.

Mathematics will include high school algebra but no calculus.

Prerequisite. AST 301, 302, or 303, or an equivalent descriptive introduction to astronomy of one semester or more.

Instructor. Professor Gregory Shields. Office: RLM 15.224. Phone: 471-1402. E-mail: Office Hours (subject to change): TuTh 10-11, W 3-4, or by appointment. Web page:

Teaching Assistant: Mr. Daniel Kagan. Office: RLM 16.327. Phone: 471-6858. E-mail: Office Hours: M 2-3, Tu 11-12, Th 1-2, or by appointment.

Help sessions: Mondays at 5:00-5:45 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 9/20

Second exam


Tu 10/25

Third exam


Tu 11/30

Homework will count 25%, based on grading of selected problems from homework sets.

Help sessions. Help sessions will be scheduled for help with the homework and class material.

Textbook: There is no required textbook. The instructor’s informal textbook will be made available in PDF format at no cost. Course content will center on the lectures and book, supplemented with materials available on the World Wide Web.

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