ASTRONOMY 3303:     Galaxies Across Cosmic Time     Fall 2017
Prof. Dominik Riechers
220 Space Sci
Office hours: R11-12; MW after class; other times by appointment
Prof. Martha Haynes
530 Space Sci
Office hours: TR 1-2; other times by appointment
Email:   You can reach us at
riechers_AT_astro.cornell.edu and/or haynes_AT_astro.cornell.edu
if you have questions
or to arrange appointments at other times.
Web Site:   Check us out at
to find lots of interesting and helpful information, the assignments, etc.
Astro 3303 provides an overview of our current understanding of how galaxies
have evolved over the last 13+ billion years and how their evolution has been
influenced by their local intergalactic environment. We will look at the
evidence that links supermassive black holes, gas accretion and merger events
to galaxy evolution and tracks the star formation rate from early to current
epochs. Additional topics will include the formation and distribution of
clusters and groups of galaxies, the evidence for dark matter and how
galaxy evolution fits into the framework of current cosmological models.
Emphasis will be on understanding current and future observations of
galaxies, clusters and the dark matter halos they inhabit.
It is assumed that you have had at least one semester of introductory
physics and math. Some introduction to basic astronomy is helpful:
e.g. basic laws of radiation, the the H-R diagram,
the evolution of the Sun and how it differs from that of high mass stars,
basic nucleosynthesis, basic understanding of cosmic history. If you haven't had
a course in astronomy, Appendices A & B in the textbook will get you started.
If you have questions about your background, ask us.
The class will be partly lecture and partly in-class activities and presentations.
Because of the latter, attendance is required. In-class activities cannot be made
up, although absence for legitimate reasons or emergencies will be excused.
Students will be required to keep a portfolio which contains all assigned
work including in class-activities and to access, use and perform simple analysis
of public astronomical datasets. A final project to be presented both orally
and in written form will substitute for a final exam; the final paper is due
on Wed Dec 6th at 4:30pm.
Grades will be based on regular homework assignments including presentations (40%),
the portfolio and class participation (20%), two short in-class tests (10% each)
and the final project(20%).
Late assignments will be penalized in proportion to their lateness (10% of the grade
will be deducted for each day of delay in submission)
except in emergencies or for important reasons for which
alternative arrangements are made at least 24 hours in advance.
What's fair and what's not:  Some of the work in this class will
be done in groups and some on your own. As in much of science, working in
collaboration with other members of the class is allowed (except when
specifically stated otherwise), but, as in professional circumstances, you need to
follow the Astro3303 "collaboration rule" which is simply: collaborators need to be
external sources of information and ideas need to be cited. Remember that
most sources found on the web are not scholarly (if not simply unreliable!),
so be judicious in your use of web sites. Cornell has a code of
check it out. If you have any questions about collaborating with other students,
citation of sources or similar issues, ask us.
Readings:   We will select readings from the astronomical literature,
available electronically through the Cornell library system, as well as
regular assignments in the textbook Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology: An
Introduction by Peter Schneider, which is available from Amazon, and
also digitally via the
CU Library. Different versions are available
(e.g., a second edition was published in 2015); if there is any confusion,