PX4223: Physics of the Early Universe

School Cardiff School of Physics & Astronomy
Department Code PHYSX
Module Code PX4223
External Subject Code F510
Number of Credits 10
Level L7
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader Dr Enzo Pascale
Semester Spring Semester
Academic Year 2015/6

Outline Description of Module

To introduce the theoretical concepts involved in Big-Bang models of the early Universe.
To discuss modern inflationary cosmology and its implications for cosmological observations.
To describe the physical processes involved in producing fluctuations in the temperature and polarization of the cosmic microwave background.
To discuss ideas for the origin of dark matter and dark energy.
To describe the main gaps in our physical understanding of the Universe.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

Describe the principal ideas underlying inflationary cosmology.
Construct, solve analytically (or approximately) theoretical models of the early Universe.
Relate cosmological observations to underlying theoretical ideas.

How the module will be delivered

22 x 1 hr lectures, marked exercises.

Skills that will be practised and developed

Problem solving. Analytical Skills. Mathematics.

How the module will be assessed

Examination and Continuous Assessment.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs)
Examination - Spring Semester 80 Physics Of The Early Universe 2
Written Assessment 20 Physics Of The Early Universe N/A

Syllabus content

Basics of the Big Bang: Summary of basic cosmological theory. The Friedmann models. Cosmological Constant. The concordance cosmology. Singularities and Horizons. The Planck time and Quantum Gravity.
Thermal History in the Big Bang: The cosmic microwave background. Radiation decoupling and recombination. The cosmic neutrino background. Cosmological Nucleosynthesis. Baryogenesis. Relic particles. Dark matter.
Cosmic Inflation: Cosmological models with scalar fields. Phase transitions in the early Universe. The horizon and flatness problems. Inflation. The origin of perturbations. Primordial Gravitational waves.
The Cosmic Microwave Background: Physical origin of temperature and polarization fluctuations. CMB experiments and the establishment of the standard cosmological model.
Cosmic Structure: Application of perturbation theory to density fluctuations in the expanding Universe. Cold Dark Matter and structure formation. Gaussian fluctuations. The cosmic web and the large-scale structure of the Universe.
Unanswered Questions: Limitations of the Standard Model.

Background Reading and Resource List

Cosmological Physics, J A Peacock (Cambridge Uni versity Press, 1999).

Cosmology: The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure , P Coles and F Lucchin (John Wiley and Sons, 2nd Edition, 2002).

Cosmology, S J Weinberg (Oxford University Press, 2008.


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