Y3 FEG 2012 logo

Galaxies are the building blocks of the Universe. In this module we  quantitatively understand how structures form and evolve on various scales in the Universe. Open to all Y3/4 Physics students. No pre-requisites (Y2 Structure in the Universe recommended).


Tuesdays 12-1 (Physics W103) and Fridays 12-1 (Strathcona LT3), except for 6-10 February, when there will be no class. Instead, there will be additional an additional lecture scheduled for Wednesday 22 February at 11-12 (Nuffield G13).

Lectures and handouts 

This module will examine how the first stars and galaxies are formed due to gravitational instability of the early large-scale structures. Observed properties of galaxies at high redshift will be studied along with a theoretical development of formation and evolution of galaxies. We will  look at how the structure of galaxies (spiral, elliptical) is linked with the dynamics of its stars, and in the process learn how to apply Newtonian mechanics to extended distribution of matter (with spherical or cylindrical symmetry). We will examine the role played by angular momentum in the evolution and morphology of galaxies. We will examine the contents of our own galaxy - the Milky Way - and explore its immediate neighbourhood. We will study how the evolution of galaxies depends on their environment, and examine the role played by their central supermassive black holes. Finally, we will study how star formation is triggered in galaxies, and how the evolution of galaxies depend on the nature of star formation, and on how the star formation is quenched while galaxies are transformed.

This module is available to Year 3 and Year 4 students. Year 4 students will be required to undertaken some self-learning on a topic that will be announced during the lectures.

Notes and books
Students are expected to make their own notes in class. I will hand out printed notes on a few bits of the module that are not easily accessible in textbooks. If I use powerpoint, the corresponding file will be available here. On the module website, I will indicate, for each lecture, a set of links on the web and also chapters of relevant textbooks that would be useful for following up the material covered in each lecture. You are expected to follow textbooks. Sparke and Gallagher and Carroll and Ostlie will be useful for various bits of the module.

List of recommended Textbooks

Click for list of books- also links to websites of the individual textbooks, which have supplementary study material and other useful links.

Somak Raychaudhury
Physics West 234 (somak -at- star.sr.bham.ac.uk)