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.


Lecture hours:  T – Th 9.00 – 10.15am  [all lectures will be given online via zoom]

Office hours:  by apointment only [online via zoom]

Syllabus: Click here for download

Grading:   40% final exam

                       – 30% problem sets

                       – 30% term paper   [List of Topics]

For more information, use the Yale Canvas System.


Problem Sets

  • Problem Set 1 [due date Mon, Sept 21]
  • Problem Set 2 [not available yet]
  • Problem Set 3 [not available yet]
  • Problem Set 4 [not available yet]
  • Problem Set 5 [not available yet]

  • Lecture 1: Introduction; Galaxy Formation in a Nutshell (including one-slide overview)
  • Lecture 2: Cosmology (Riemannian geometry, FRW metric)
  • Lecture 3: Cosmology (General Relativity, Friedmann equations)
  • Lecture 4: Structure Formation in the Linear Regime I: Foreplay
  • Lecture 5: Structure Formation in the Linear Regime II: Baryons
  • Lecture 6: Structure Formation in the 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: Galaxy Interactions & Transformations
  • Lecture 15: Cooling & Photo-Ionization Heating
  • Lecture 16: Star Formation
  • Lecture 17: Supernova Feedback
  • Lecture 18: Structure & Formation of Disk Galaxies
  • Lecture 19: Structure & Formation of Elliptical Galaxies
  • Lecture 20: Numerical Simulations
  • Lecture 21: Active Galactic Nuclei
  • Lecture 22: The InterGalactic Medium
  • Lecture 23: Semi-Analytical Models of Galaxy Formation: Putting it all together…
  • Summary: a summary of lecture 1-14

This slide summarizes the basic principles of structure/galaxy formation in a LCDM cosmology. It serves as a useful reference point for many of the topics discussed in more detail in this course.