Homepage for Cosmology (Spring 2017)

Instructor: Donghui Jeong

Final Exam: 4/21 (1:20pm - 2:20pm)


Class descriptions

Cosmology is the scientific study of the Universe as a whole: its physical contents, principal physical processes, and evolution through time. Modern physical cosmology, which began in the early 20th century, is undergoing a renaissance as a precision science as powerful ground- and space-based telescopes allow us to observe the formation of the first starts, galaxies and galaxy clusters; the echoes of the inflationary epoch as they are impressed upon the cosmic microwave background; and evidence for and clues to the nature of the mysterious dark energy, which is driving the accelerating expansion of the universe. This course will introduce students to the key observations and the theoretical framework through which we understand the Universe that we are living in.


Basic undergraduate physics and curiosity. Those who know general relativity may have some advantage in the class, but general relativity is not required for the class. We will develop the necessary knowledge on general relativity in the class.


Some useful books

There are many excellent books on cosmology. But, I will not follow any individual book in this class, and do not require any particular book or suggest that you buy any in particular. These are some books worth owning, although which of these you choose to buy may depend on your particular interests.

Principles of Physical Cosmology (P.J.E. Peebles)
This is a classic text on the subject. Classical cosmological tests are particularly well explored. Latter sections are organized by subject so that one can move from one to another.

Cosmological Physics (J. Peacock)
A nice reference for the broader subjects including AGN, galaxy formation, etc.

The Early Universe (E.W. Kolb and M.S. Turner)
Yet another classic text on the early Universe theories including the thermal history.

Modern Cosmology (S. Dodelson)
This book explains the linear perturbation theory in a detailed, yet very comprehensive manner. The last section on statistics is also very good.

Cosmology (S. Weinberg)
This is a great book! Insightful, accurate, and clear explanation. A caveat: be aware that the notation in this book might be different from others. You can find an analytical approximation for the CMB power spectrum.

Physical Foundations of Cosmology (S. Mukhanov)
I love chapters on big-bang nucleosynthesis, inflationary perturbation, and CMB power spectrum! Things are done as analytical as possible here.

The Primordial Density Perturbations (D. Lyth and A. Liddle)
This book focuses on the generation of density perturbation and its evolution to the observables. It includes relatively recent issues such as primordial non-Gaussianity.

Galaxy Formation and Evolution (Moujun Mo, Frank van den Bosch, Simon White)
A comprehensive collection of essentially everything in the modern cosmology from inflation to galaxy formation. Chapters discussing the galaxy formation are particularly useful.

Syllabus and Reading Assignments

Lecture notes

Note that these notes are provided with no guarantees. Nobody (including me) has proofread the notes. Use at your own risk!

Links to Online materials

For some links below, you may need Penn State ID (or open the link on campus)
The CMB movie that I showed in the class comes from LAMBDA (Legacy Archive for Microwave Background Data) site.
Scientific Ametica article: Misconceptions about the Big Bang.

Einstein's 1917 paper: Kosmologische Betrachtungen zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie

Mario Livio's article about Lemaitre: Lost in translation: Mystery of the missing text solved
Hubble's original paper: A relation between distance and radial velocity among extra-galactic nebulae
Lemaitre's paper (translated): A Homogeneous Universe of Constant Mass and Increasing Radius accounting for the Radial Velocity of Extra-galactic Nebula
The most accurate black body spectrum from COBE FIRAS
Adam Riess's personal recollection: Shaw lecture
A review from Adam Riess contains plot that must be familiar to you
Another review from Saul Perlmutter and Brian Schmidt
The most recent compilation of supernova hubble diagra: Union2.1 and SNLS

Optical depth of CMB from WMAP1 and WMAP3 Yes, it takes time to understand the dataset and get a right answer.

Positron excess from AMS:
to 300 GeV (2013) "Viewpoint: Positrons Galore" by Stephane Coutu
to 500 GeV (2014) electron and positron energy spectra (2014)

B-mode detection from BICEP2: PRL, Flauger et al. argues that it could be foreground, and recent Planck paper supports that.

Example of using dispersion measure
Millisecond radio burst: extragalactic origin (Science version) or terrestrial origin (ApJ version)?

Review on neutrino physics: Neutrino masses and mixings and...
Hitoshi Murayama's neutrino site

Direct detection of dark matter: LUX collaboration, CDMS collaboration

Up-to-date measurement of primordial abundance of Helium and Deuterium.

RecFest and two most accurate recombination codes: CosmoRec and HyRec

Encyclopaedia Inflationaris in arXiv

Final Exam

Homework assignments

Solving problem sets is one of the most efficient ways of learning the subject. You are encouraged to collaborate with fellow students and/or to consult senior students, local postdocs and me. But, please write the solution by yourself.

Homework is usually due at the end of the class on the week from the assignment. No homework will be accepted after the solution is posted on the course webpage (surely before the class right after the due date).

Eberly College of Science statements

1) The Eberly College of Science Code of Mutual Respect and Cooperation" www.science.psu.edu/climate/code-of-mutual-respect-and-cooperation-1 embodies the values that we hope our faculty, staff, and students possess and will endorse to make The Eberly College of Science a place where every individual feels respected and valued, as well as challenged and rewarded.

2) The Eberly College of Science is committed to the academic success of students enrolled in the College's courses and undergraduate programs. When in need of help, students can utilize various College and University wide resources for learning assistance. http://www.science.psu.edu/advising/success//

Note to Students with Disabilities:

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site at http://equity.psu.edu/ods/ . In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation (see the documentation guidelines at https://equity.psu.edu/ods/guidelines). If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.