54976 - Galaxy Formation and Evolution

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to provide the student with the fundamental knowledge of the extragalactic astrophysics, and the formation and evolution of galaxies in the general cosmlogical context. The student will develop the knowledge of the physics and astrophysics processes which explain the observed properties of galaxies and their evolution. In particular: - the cosmological framework, the formation of structures and theoretical predictions; - the general properties of our Galaxy and the Local Group; - the physical, evolutionary and structural properties of galaxies and galaxy clusters; - methods of surveys for galaxies at cosmological distances; - properties of galaxies at cosmological distances; - current constraints on the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Course contents

The course aims at providing a coherent and modern view of extragalactic astrophysics, formation and evolution of galaxies and clusters, galaxies in the cosmological context, and the observational approaches that are now possible to study the distant Universe directly.

Main topics :

- Classification of galaxies.

- Our Galaxy and the Local Group.

- The physics of gas in galaxy formation and evolution : diffuse matter, ionization and recombination, cooling and heating processes of astrophysical gas, molecular gas, interstellar dust, gravitational collapse and Jeans mass.

- Structural and physical properties of galaxies in present-day Universe (ellipticals, spirals, irregulars): diffuse medium, stars, star formation, chemical abundances, masses, scaling relations, surface brightness profiles, distribution functions (e.g. luminosity, mass, ...), clustering, environmental effects, galaxy interactions.

- General properties of galaxy clusters : structure, estimate of masses, mass fractions (dark, gas, galaxies), properties of galaxies in clusters, scaling relations, S-Z effect.

- Outline of the cosmological model and theory of structure formation.

- The evolution of the baryonic component.

- The formation of disks and spheroids.

- The formation of the first objects (Population III stars).

- Intergalactic Medium and Reionization.

- Methods to select high redshift galaxies.

- Physical properties of high redshift galaxies.

- Global cosmic evolution (luminosity, star formation, mass, metallicity, morphology, ...)

- Comparison of observations and theoretical models.

- Future prospects.


Most of the course topics are included in the following texts :

1) P. Schneider, "Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology. An Introduction". Springer Verlag.
2) Gallagher & Sparke, "Galaxies in the Universe" (Second Edition), Cambrige University Press.

3) Studying Distant Galaxies, F. Hammer et al., World Scientific.

For more details and in-depth study of specific topics :

Mo, van den Bosch & White, ¨Galaxy Formation and Evolution¨, Cambrige University Press

Other readings will be suggested during the course. Moreover, the slides shown during the
lectures will be made available in order to allow to follow the topics actually presented during the course.

Teaching methods

The lectures are oral and make use of both slides (as a visual help) and traditional blackboard for the proofs, examples and exercies. In addition, students are assigned some specialist articles to be read and discussed later in the classroom.

Assessment methods

The exams are oral. During the exams, at least three questions are asked in order to verify the learning level and the ability of the student to link coherently the different topics of the course.

Teaching tools

Blackboard and presentations of powerpoint slides.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Andrea Cimatti