KC6032 - Cosmology and Stellar Evolution

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What will I learn on this module?

The aim of this module is to develop knowledge of three main areas of astrophysics:
• Stellar evolution (including star formation, supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes)
• Galaxies (including morphology, spectral properties, Hubble classification, gravitational lensing)
• Cosmology (including Hubble’s law, expansion and curvature of the Universe, Inflation, Cosmic Microwave Background).

The student will be introduced to the big questions in astrophysics, including the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, the hunt for extra-solar planets and gravitational waves, and consider the ultimate fate of our Universe by looking at the curvature and geometry of space-time.

The module will be taught using a mixture of lectures and seminars. It will be assessed by coursework (30%) and formal examination (70%). Exam feedback will provided individually and also generically to indicate where the cohort has a strong or a weaker answer to examination questions. Written feedback will be provided on the coursework. Formative feedback will be provided during the seminars.

Outline Syllabus

Stellar Evolution
Structure and evolution of stars, including formation and fundamental properties, composition, nucleosynthesis, the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, spectroscopic classification. Extra-solar planets. Star formation, evolution and death, including supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars and black holes.

Galaxies
The morphology, spectral properties and population groups of galaxies (including elliptical, spiral and stellar nursery). Hubble classification. Review of apparent and absolute magnitudes, Doppler effect and redshifts. The main-sequence mass-luminosity relationship. Clusters, including chemical composition. The Interstellar Medium and the heliopause. Variable stars. Distance to the Galactic Centre. Galaxy formation and evolution. Gravitational lensing and gravitational waves. Dark matter.

Cosmology
Hubble’s law and the expansion of the Universe. Cosmological Principle. Review of the origin of the Big Bang and age of the Universe. Curvature and expansion of the Universe and curved space-time. Cosmic Microwave Background, Inflation. The curved, expanding universe as well as the geometry and ultimate fate of universes. Dark Energy

How will I learn on this module?

A wide range of learning and teaching approaches are used in this module. The module is delivered using a combination of lectures and seminars. Lectures are used to introduce essential theory and to work through example problems. Seminars will be used to analyse and discuss additional example problems. Problems will be set in advance of seminars, and these are of a similar nature to the examples provided in lectures. Lectures are used to allow the students to develop knowledge of three main concepts of astrophysics: (i) stellar evolution, (ii) galaxies and (iii) cosmology. The student will be introduced to the big questions in astrophysics, including the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, the hunt for extra-solar planets and gravitational waves, and consider the geometry and ultimate fate of our Universe. Seminars support this process through worked examples and virtual demonstrations using multimedia resources. Students gain greater autonomy and independence through this module and are directed to seminal references which provide a basis for further student-led exploration of the state-of-the-art. This process helps students to develop critical thinking skills for example forming judgements on the credibility and authority of a reference. It also provides valuable sector knowledge thereby increasing students’ employability.

Students will be assessed by coursework (30%) and a formal examination (70%). Coursework (an assignment/written report) will cover the topic of stellar evolution. The examination will cover all topics from the module.

Formative feedback will be provided on seminar work which will include problems designed to aid student understanding.

Written feedback will be provided on the coursework. Exam feedback will provided individually and also generically to indicate where the cohort has a strong or a weaker answer to examination questions.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

In addition to direct contact with the module team during lectures and seminars, students are encouraged to develop their curiosity by making direct contact with the module team either via email or the open door policy operated throughout the programme. Students will also be regularly referred to supporting resources including relevant texts and multimedia relevant to the module. References to these resources will be made available through the e-learning portal and in lectures and seminars.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• Analyse and critically evaluate the main concepts of astrophysics, including stellar evolution and the nature of galaxies.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• Construct and apply mathematical models of astrophysical concepts, including cosmological models.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• Manage their own learning, through knowledge of available reading sources, including advanced texts and research papers and scientific databases.
• Effectively and concisely communicate astrophysics-based ideas in written form.

How will I be assessed?

SUMMATIVE
1. Coursework (30%) – KU1, IPSA1, PVA1, PVA2
2. Examination (70%) – KU1, IPSA1, PVA2

FORMATIVE
1. Seminars KU3, IPSA1


Students will be assessed by coursework (30%) and a formal examination (70%). Coursework (an assignment/written report) will cover the topic of stellar evolution. The examination will cover all topics from the module.

Formative feedback will be provided on seminar work which will include problems designed to aid student understanding. Written feedback will be provided on the coursework.

Pre-requisite(s)

None

Co-requisite(s)

None

Module abstract

Cosmology and Stellar Evolution will enable you to solve advance mathematical and physical problems and develop your research skills, whilst learning the up-to-date knowledge about the universe.

Cosmology and Stellar Evolution will follow a combination of lectures, in-class practical approaches and personal learning activities. During the seminars, you will work through problems to develop your knowledge of with the support of a tutor. You will be assessed by a mid-year assignment (30%) and a final examination (70%), which will be designed to put forward your new skills and knowledge. You will receive constructive feedback during seminars throughout the year, and eLearning Portal will serve as a point of contact, information and discussion with the tutor. You will be provided with personal learning/research activities through the eLearning portal.

You will enhance your employability, enabling you to demonstrate a combination of mathematical/physical and problem-solving skills that are highly prized in academic environment, and are directly relevant to further study.

Course info

UCAS Code F2W4

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years full-time or 5 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2019 or September 2020

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