Gravitational Dynamics and Galaxy Formation

Course content

The course will cover the most important ideas in the field of galaxy formation and chemical enrichment. We will discuss reionisation of the intergalactic medium, relevant timescales for interactions in galaxies and clusters, observations of high-redshift galaxies. We will work with the properties of structures (consisting of dark matter, stars, and/or gas) formed by gravity.


MSc Programme in Physics

Learning outcome


  • The reionisation of the Universe
  • Methods by which to observationally detect high-redshift galaxies and their limitations and biases.
  • Dark matter, stellar and gas structures. Their properties, creation and development.
  • Rotation curves of spiral galaxies
  • Hydrostatic equilibrium, and its application on galaxies and galaxy clusters.
  • Jeans equation, the solution hereof, and application on realistic systems.
  • Equilibrium of collisionsless systems, Boltzmann equation. Potential theory. Stellar motions.


  • The ability to determine rotation curves for spiral galaxies from real data.
  • The ability to estimate chemical abundances from spectra of high-redshift quasars and gamma-ray bursts
  • Deep insight and certain application of the basic equations for cosmological structures.
  • Detailed knowledge of the solutions of the Jeans equation, and its application to realistic systems.
  • Detailed knowledge of the application of hydrostatic equilibrium for realistic systems.
  • The ability to critically interpret scientific overview articles within the subject.

This course will provide the student with a qualitative understanding of cosmological structures. The student will also develop the conceptual, mathematical and numerical skills needed when studying the literature within the subject and in wider astrophysical connections. The course will establish a solid foundation for a M.Sc. project in phenomenological, theoretical or observational astrophysics.

lectures, exercises, student presentations. The course is structured around a set of exercises were the students will get hands-on experience with understanding concrete phenomena related to galaxy formation and galactic dynamics. Programming skills is an advantage for following the course.

Articles and notes.

equivalent to the B.Sc. in physics with specialization in astrophysics, i.e. about 30 ECTS of B.Sc. level astrophysics courses covering such topics as stars, planets, galaxies and cosmology.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
oral exam with exam questions known beforehand. 30 minutes including grading. No preparation time.
Only certain aids allowed

the student may bring a piece of paper for each exam question.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

see "learning outcome"

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Exercises
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 126
  • English
  • 206