ASTRONOMY 5630 & 5640


Spring 2013

TIME AND LOCATION: Tuesday, Thursday, 2:00-3:15pm, Astronomy 265

INSTRUCTOR: Mark Whittle

OFFICE HOURS: Room 216, Astronomy Building, M, W, 2:00-3:00 (please email first); Telephone 924-4900 ; email:

(The UVa Collab web page points to this; but use it for, e.g., anonymous feedback if you wish)


Unfortunately, there is no text which covers all the topics. However, the following primary text covers much of the material, though in a sequence rather different from the one we'll take. In practice, my web notes (found at the above address) form the primary material, and I expect you to have looked over them before each class. I have put a number of other books on reserve which you may also find useful.

Note, you can find Errata for B&M and S&G

COURSE CONTENT : The pair of classes, 5630 & 5640 (formerly 553 & 554), aim to survey extragalactic astronomy at a level suitable for graduate and senior undergraduate astronomy students.

Topics emphasized in 5630 include: morphological, photometric and dynamical properties of normal galaxies; galaxy gas content, metallicities and populations.

Topics emphasized in 5640 include: Star formation; galaxy interactions, groups and clusters; galaxy nuclei and AGN; Cosmology and galaxy formation.

A more specific list of the 20 topics we shall cover is given in the Course Outline Page.

PREREQUISITES : Some astronomy, physics and math background will be assumed, comparable to ASTR 1220/2120, MATH 1310/1320/3255/3251 and PHYS 1610/1620/2610/2620. However, since one aim of this course is to touch on many topics, we will not have time to develop any topic in great mathematical or physical depth. Consequently, I am hoping that the course will be relatively accessible (for example, keen 3rd or 4th year undergraduates should be able to do fine).

Some homework problems require modest familiarity with a programming language (e.g. Fortran, C, IDL). Mathematica, while useful for a number of things, isn't really suited to some of the problems.

REQUIREMENTS : There are two requirements for completing this course.

HONOR CODE: As with all courses at UVa, all your graded work is subject to the Honor Code. Of course, I expect you will be discussing the homework material together, but when it comes to writing up your answers, this is expected to be exclusively your own work.