Christoph's photo Christoph Pfrommer
Back to Lectures overview

    Galaxies and Cosmology

    This course deals with the properties of galaxies, the large scale distribution of matter in the Universe, and the evolution of cosmic structures from the early cosmos until today. We introduce some fundamental theoretical concepts and contrast them with the available observational evidence. We will deal with the following topics: structure and dynamics of galaxies; stellar populations; models of galactic chemical evolution; clustering of galaxies; the standard model of cosmology; cosmological parameters and their determination; the early universe; galaxy formation. Regular homework exercises will be reviewed in the bi-weekly exercise sessions. These exercises serve also to prepare for the written exam at the end of the semester.


    Prof. Christoph Pfrommer & Prof. Lutz Wisotzki; exercise classes: Roisin Brogan, Luca Prudenzi

    Place and Dates:

    The lectures take place every Tuesday, at 14:15-15:45 in room The exercise classes and the seminars alternate weekly and take place on Thursday, 12:15-13:45, also in room Please sign up for this course on PULS. In case you have problems in signing up on PULS, please contact me directly via cpfrommer [at]

    The cosmology part of the lectures is based on the revised lecture notes originally written by Prof. Bartelmann (University of Heidelberg) and is available as a PDF file.


    • The homogeneous Universe:
      • Geometry and dynamics
      • Parameters, age, and distances
      • Thermal evolution: freeze-out and recombination

    • The inhomogeneous Universe:
      • The growth of perturbations
      • Statistics and non-linear evolution
      • Evidence for dark matter

    • The early Universe:
      • Problems of the standard model of cosmology
      • Cosmological inflation
      • Cosmic microwave background
      • Dark energy

    • Structure of galaxies:
      • Galaxy formation
      • Morphology of galaxies and stellar dynamics
      • Stellar populations

    • Interstellar and intergalactic medium:
      • Interstellar medium
      • Intergalactic medium
      • Chemical evolution of stellar populations

    • Galaxies and AGNs:
      • Disc galaxies, star formation
      • Elliptical galaxies, black holes
      • Active galactic nuclei

    Online Material

    Online material (reading assignments, homework exercises, entry tests, forums) for this course is available at this moodle link.

    Seminar Organisation

    We will discuss the lecture topics in bi-weekly seminar sessions, which will be lead by the students. See the moodle pages for more detail.

    Credit Points:

    Credit points for this lectures can be used for the Master Science Astrophysics Module PHY-750 and the Master Physics Modules 741b, Wahlpflichtmoduls "Profilierungsfelder", "Physikalische Fächer", and "Astrophysik". Note that this course is the second part of the Astrophysics I course in stellar astrophysics, galaxies & cosmology.

    Grades and credit points are given on the basis of a final in-class exam. To be eligible for this exam, you need to fulfill the following three requirements:
    • receive 50% of the points of your homework assignments
    • receive 50% of the points of your entry tests before the contact sessions
    • organize one seminar (together with the team of students assigned to that seminar)
    • pose at least 7 questions for the seminars (across all seminars) to the moodle forums

    Literature (for the cosmology part):

    • Bartelmann, M.: Lectures on Cosmology
    • Peacock, J.: Cosmological physics. Cambridge University Press
    • Peebles, P.J.E.: Principles of physical cosmology. Princeton University Press
    • Padmanabhan, T.: Structure formation in the universe. Cambridge University Press
    • Kolb, E.; Turner, M.: The Early Universe. Westview Press
    • Liddle, A.R.; Lyth, D.H.: Cosmological Inflation and Large Scale Structure. Cambridge University Press
    • Sparke & Gallagher: Galaxies in the Universe, An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 2007)
    • Binney & Merrifield: Galactic Astronomy (Princeton University Press, 1998)
    • Binney & Tremaine: Galactic Dynamics (Princeton University Press, 2008)