Academic Year 2023/2024 - Teacher: Alessandro Carmelo LANZAFAME

Expected Learning Outcomes

The aim of the course is to get the students acquainted with the fundamental concepts in the fields of Galactic Astronomy and theoretical and observational Cosmology, particularly in what concerns their interconnections for the scientific investigation on the formation and evolution of the components and structures of the Universe. Based on these concepts, the relevance of recent achievements in the fields of Stellar Formation, Galactic Archaeology, and Near Field Cosmology is outlined.

Knowledge and understanding

Students will gain discriminating knowledge of the physical processes leading to the formation and evolution of stars, stellar systems, galaxies, and large scale structures of the Universe. This includes understanding the role of gravitation, baryonic and non-baryonic matter, and dark energy in the cosmological models as well as the principles of the deductive method in this research field.

Applying knowledge and understanding

Students will gain the skills needed to apply knowledge to problem solving in the fields of stellar formation, kinematics of stellar systems and the Galaxy, the chemical evolution of the Galaxy, structure and stellar populations of the Galaxy and to the evolution of the major components of the Universe.

Making judgements

Students will gain the skills needed to compare observational data with theoretical models and plan experiments, if only at a conceptual level, aiming at revealing possible deviation from the models’ predictions.

Communication skills

Students will gain confidence in dealing and discussing fundamental concepts in the field of Cosmology and Galactic Astronomy, including those regarding the recent advances in Star Formation, Galactic Archaeology, and Near Field Cosmology, at professional and non-professional level.

Learning Skills

Students will get acquainted with introductory literature in the field of Galactic Astronomy and Cosmology and will be able to selectively search the scientific literature for further information regarding specific issues.


Course Structure

The main concepts are taught in front lectures, which include practical examples. Learning effectiveness is monitored through written exercises and intermediate tests.

Should the circumstances require online or blended teaching, appropriate modifications to what is hereby stated may be introduced, in order to achieve the main objectives of the course. 

Exams may take place online, depending on circumstances.

Attendance of Lessons

Attendance is compulsory according to the rules of the teaching regulations of the CdS in SFA as reported in the link:


Detailed Course Content

Part I


Astronomical measurements. Properties of stars. Stellar populations. Interstellar medium. Star formation. Stellar clusters.


Morphology of galaxies. Components of the Galaxy. Kinematics of stellar clusters. Kinematics of galaxies. Introduction to the dynamics of stellar clusters. Introduction to the dynamics of the Galaxy

Part II

Observational cosmology

The cosmic distance scale. Hubble law. Cosmic background radiation. Clusters of galaxies and the large scale structure of the Universe.

Part III

Cosmological models

Introduction to general relativity. The cosmological principle. The Robertson-Walker metric. The Hubble constant. Redshift. Deceleration parameter. Baryonic and non-baryonic matter. The dark energy. The LCDM model. The Friedmann models. Formation of structures in the Universe. Near-field cosmology. The thermal history of the Universe. Inflationary Universe.

Textbook Information


[1] J. Binney, Merrifield M., Galactic Astronomy, Princeton University Press (1998)

[2] J. Rich, “Fundamentals of Cosmology”, Springer-Verlag, 2001


T. Padmanabhan, “Theoretical Astrophysics”, Cambridge University Press, 2000

P. Coles & F. Lucchin, “Cosmology. The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure”, Wiley & Sons, 1995

S. Bonometto, “Cosmologia & Cosmologie, Zanichelli, 2008

M. S. Longair,  “Galaxy Formation”, Springer, 2008

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Parte I: Stelle e Galassie[1]
2Parte II: Proprietà osservate dell'Universo[2]
3Parte III: Modelli cosmologici[2]

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

The exam consists of an oral test. Further tests are proposed at the end of each of the three parts that make up the course. The purpose is to assess comprehension and learning- These tests are not considered for the final assessment.

The final assessment can also be carried out online, should the conditions require it.

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

The following list is not exhaustive and represent only some examples

Describe the temporal evolution of barionic matter and cold dark matter energy.

Describe the thermal history of the Universe as predicted by the Friedmann quations

Describe the main components of the Galaxy

Estimate the age of the Universe at the matter-radiation equivalence and at the matter-dark energy equivalence fot different estimates of the cosmological parameters

Estimate the redshift for different components of the distance cosmic ladder.

Describe the conditions that lead to the survival or to a dispersion of a young stellar open cluster in the Galaxy.

Describe the kinematics of a spheroidal galaxy and of a disc galaxy