Astronomy Dept
Physics Dept
Yale University

Course Description: This course prepares the student for state-of-the-art research in galaxy formation and evolution. The course focusses on the physical processes underlying the formation and evolution of galaxies in a LCDM cosmology. Topics include Newtonian perturbation theory, the spherical collapse model, formation and structure of dark matter haloes (including Press-Schechter theory), the virial theorem, dynamical friction, cooling processes, theory of star formation, feedback processes, elements of stellar population synthesis, chemical evolution modeling, AGN, and supermassive black holes. The course also includes a detailed treatment of statistical tools used to describe the large scale distribution of galaxies and introduces the student to the concepts of galaxy bias and halo occupation modeling. During the final lectures we will discuss a number of outstanding issues in galaxy formation, and the students will present and discuss their term paper on a current topic in the field of galaxy formation & evolution.

Syllabus: Click here for download

Lecture Hours: Tuesday 11.00am - 12.15pm and Friday 9.00am - 10.15am in JWG 263

Grading: 40% Final Exam (Oral)
35% Term Paper & Presentation (topic picked in class)
25% Problem Sets

Lecture Notes: Lecture 1 Introduction; Galaxy Formation in a Nutshell [Blackboard presentation; no slides]
Lecture 2 Cosmology (Riemannian geometry, FRW metric)
Lecture 3 Cosmology (General Relativity, Friedmann equations)
Lecture 4 Structure Formation in the Non-Linear Regime I: Foreplay
Lecture 5 Structure Formation in the Non-Linear Regime II: Baryons
Lecture 6 Structure Formation in the Non-Linear Regime III: Dark Matter
Lecture 7 Transfer Function & Cosmic Microwave Background
Lecture 8 Non-Linear Collapse & Relaxation
Lecture 9 Press-Schechter Theory & Halo Mass Functions
Lecture 10 Merger Trees & Halo Bias
Lecture 11 Structure of Dark Matter Haloes
Lecture 12 Large Scale Structure
Lecture 13 The Halo Model & Halo Occupation Statistics
Lecture 14 Cooling & Photo-Ionization Heating
Lecture 15 Star Formation
Lecture 16 Supernova Feedback
Lecture 17 Galaxy Interactions & Transformations
Lecture 18 Structure & Formation of Disk Galaxies
Lecture 19 Structure & Formation of Elliptical Galaxies

Other Downloads: Syllabus (PDF)
Problem Set 1
Problem Set 2
Problem Set 3
Problem Set 4 (not available yet)
Problem Set 5 (not available yet)
List of Topics for Term Papers (not available yet)
List of resources for material on Nbody & Hydro simulations

Term Paper & Presentation: Each student will write a term paper (6-12 pages) on a topic related to galaxy formation that is of current interest (a list with topics and relevant papers will be made available in class). Durng the final 3/4 classes, the students will present their term paper in class (20-30min) and lead a discussion on their topic.


Galaxy Formation & Evolution
by H. Mo, F. van den Bosch & S. White

This course will closely follow this upper-level textbook which presents an in-depth discussion on all topics of relevance for the formation and evolution of galaxies. Students are strongly encouraged to purchase a copy of this textbook, following this link
(Cambridge University Press, 2010; ISBN 978-0-521-85793-2, hardcover).

Astronomy Department Phone: +1-203-432-0196
Yale University Fax:     +1-203-432-5048
P.O. Box 208101 E-mail:
New Haven, CT 06520-8101