AST552 -- Galactic Dynamics

Fall 2011

Class Hours: 12:30 - 13:45 Morey 506

Prof:     Eric Blackman, Bausch &Lomb 417A, 5-0537,

Course Material and Texts:

This course will cover aspects of the dynamics of galaxies which includes the physics of why galaxies have the structure they do, what the observational implications, and how galaxies evolve. The course will be aimed at identifying the underlying concepts and will make connections to other areas of physics and astrophysics. I also hope that it will help you to think about astrophysical problems not just the specific course material.

There are two recommended books for the course: (1) Dynamics of Galaxies by Giuseppe Bertin (2) Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology by Peter Schneider

Bertin's book presents galactic dynamics for physicists and makes nice connections to plasma physics where appropriate. This is why I chose this book. Schneider's book is a more phenomenological book aimed for less experienced students but its value is that it is simple and complements Bertin's book with a wide range of topics and concepts.

Other classic texts include "Galactic Dynamics" by Binney and Tremaine which is essentially at the level of the Bertin book. I decided on the Bertin book based on the way connections to plasma physics are presented. But Binney and Tremaine is a commonly used highly regarded text.

I expect to cover selected topics from Chapters 1-20 in Bertin and from Chapters 1-9 in Schneider.


This will be an informal and interactive course. Grading will be Pass/Fail.


(1) Paper/Project

(2) homework problems

(3) Class Participation