PHYS 533 – Topics in Cosmology: Galactic Dynamics with Gaia
This course will cover topics in the theory of the dynamics of galaxies, illustrated with hands-on examples from the new Gaia astrometric survey of the Milky Way (https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/). We will cover potential theory, orbit analysis and modeling, equilibria and stability of collisionless gravitating systems, and the dynamical structure of galaxies. Topics will also include a basic introduction to astrometry and the Gaia data set, and a discussion of numerical methods for simulating gravitating systems. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates who have studied Lagrangian or Hamiltonian classical mechanics (PHYS 351 or the equivalent) will benefit most from this course. Assignments and the final project will involve analysis of real and/or simulated Gaia data using modern numerical and statistical methods, so some programming experience (at the introductory/scripting level) will also be useful: preferably in Python, but Fortran/C/C++ will also work. Please contact the instructor in advance if the programming component is of concern to explore the possible options.