Astronomy 162 - Stars, Galaxies, & The Universe



Astronomy 162, Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe, is part 2 of a2-quarter introductory Astronomy for non-science majors taught at TheOhio State University. This podcast presents lecture audio fromProfessor Richard Pogge's Winter Quarter 2006 class. All of thelectures were recorded live in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the OSU MainCampus in Columbus, Ohio.


  • Astronomy 141 Podcast Teaser


    A new podcast, Astronomy 141, Life in the Universe, is available for those interested in continuing an exploration of topics in modern astronomy.

  • Lectures 1-4: An Explanation


    Where are Lectures 1-4? This is a good question, and one I've gotten from many listeners. Here's the answer. Recorded 2006 Nov 27 on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Welcome to Astronomy 162


    Welcome to the Astronomy 162 Lecture Podcasts! This is a brief message from me explaining the podcasts, and welcoming new and old listeners. Recorded 2006 Mar 10 on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 44: Life, the Universe, and Everything (Life Part II)


    How can we search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and what are we looking for? This second part of a 2-part lecture picks up where we left off yesterday by examining SETI, the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence, and reviews what we might look for and how. We will use this as a point of departure to then briefly review where we have come and what we have learned in Astronomy 162, bringing this course to a close for Winter Quarter 2006. Recorded 2006 Mar 10 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 43: Life in the Universe, Part I


    Are we alone in the Universe? This is the first part of a 2-part lecture that will explore the question of life and the Universe. We will look at the conditions needed for life, and address the question of how often we expect those conditions to be satisfied in our own Galaxy. In this part, we introduce the Drake Equation and make some basic estimates. To be honest, it was supposed to be one lecture, but I ran over time and ran into the bell. Oops! Very embarrasing. Tomorrow's lecture will finish up our discussion of life in the Universe, and then wrap up Astronomy 162 for the quarter. Recorded 2006 March 9 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 42: Time Travel


    Can we travel through time? This is not a frivilous, science-fiction kind of question. Certain restricted kinds of time travel are in fact allowed by classical General Relativity. This lectures takes up this question, and looks at some of the surprising answers that have been found. Recorded 2006 March 8 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 41: Dark Matter & Dark Energy


    We are not made of the same matter as most of the Universe! This surprising conclusion, that the ordinary matter we are made of (protons, neutrons, and electrons) constitute only 13% or so of the total matter in the Universe, the rest being in the form of Dark Matter. Further, this dark matter is only about 30% of the combined matter and energy density of the Universe, the remaining 70% of which appears to be a form of Dark Energy that fills the vacuum of space and acts in the present day to accelerate the expansion of the Universe. This lecture will summarize the state of our understanding of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, and look at the questions remaining to be answered in this active area of current research. Recorded 2006 March 7 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 40: The Once and Future Sun


    How will the Sun evolve? The Sun is now a middle-aged, low-mass, Main Sequence star in a state of hydrostatic and thermal equilibrium that has consumed about half of the Hydrogen available for fusion in its core. What will its subsequent evolution be as its core runs out of Hydrogen? This lecture describes our current state of understanding of the expected evolution of the Sun, informed by a combination of state-of-the-art solar models and stellar evolution codes, and data gathered from observations of nearby stars in our Galaxy. We will trace the future history of the Sun from the present until it begins its final phase as a fading White Dwarf some 8 Billion years in the future. Along the way, we'll also ask what will become of Earth. Recorded 2006 March 6 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 39: The Fate of the Universe


    What is the ultimate fate of the Universe? The ultimate fate of the Big Bang is either expansion to a maximum size followed by re-collapse (the Big Crunch) or eternal expansion into a cold, dark, disordered state (the Big Chill). Which of these is our future depends on the current density of matter and energy in the Universe, Omega0. This lecture examines our current knowledge of the matter and energy content of the Universe, which leads to the surprising discovery that we live in a Universe that is Flat (Omega0=1), Infinite, and Accelerating! We will end the lecture by exploring the possible fate of an infinite accelerating Universe. Recorded 2006 March 2 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 38: The First Three Minutes


    What was the Universe like from the earliest phases immediately after the Big Bang to the present day? This lecture reviews the physics of matter, and follows the evolution of the expanding Universe from the first instants after the Big Bang, when all 4 forces of nature were unified in a single grand-unified superforce until the emergence of the visible Universe we see around us today. Recorded 2006 March 1 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 37: The Whispers of Creation


    Is there any evidence that the Universe was very hot and dense in the distant past as predicted by the Big Bang model of the expanding Universe? This lecture examines observational tests of the Big Bang Model. We have already covered expansion in the previous lecture. Today we look at Primordial Nucleosynthesis, the creation of light elements from fusion during the first 3-4 minutes of the hot phases of the Big Bang, and the Cosmic Background Radiation, the relic blackbody radiation remaining from when the Universe became transparent to light 300,000 years after the Big Bang. Both predictions of the Big Bang Model have been spectacularly confirmed by observations of the present-day Universe. These give us confidence that the Big Bang, in broad outline, is the correct physical model of our expanding Universe. Recorded 2006 February 28 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 36: The Big Bang


    The Universe today is old, cold, low-density, and expanding. If we run the expansion backwards, we will eventually find a Universe where all the matter was in one place where the density and temperature are nearly infinite. We call this hot, dense initial state of the Universe the Big Bang. This lecture introduces the Big Bang model of the expanding universe, and how the history of the Universe depends on two numbers: the curretn expansion rate (H0), and the relative density of matter and energy (Omega0). Combined with observations, these give us an estimate of the age of the Universe of 14.0 +/- 1.4 Gyr. Recorded 2006 February 27 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 35: The Cosmic Distance Scale


    How do we measure distances on cosmic scales? This lecture describes the rungs in the cosmic distance ladder from measuring the AU in our own Solar System out into the Hubble expansion of the universe. These distances form the basis of the measurements that let us piece together the present, past, and future history of the expanding Universe, setting the stage for next week's lectures. Recorded 2006 February 24 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 34: The Expanding Universe


    How did we discover that the Universe is Expanding? What does it mean that it is expanding? This lecture introduces Hubble's Law, the observational evidence that the Universe is systematically expanding. As galaxies get more distant from us, the apparent speed of recession gets larger in proportion. The proportionality is the rate of expansion, called the Hubble Parameter (H0). This leads us to the idea of expanding space, and the Cosmological Redshift, which combined with the Hubble Law allows us a way to estimate very large cosmic distances. We will take up the more thorny issue of the Cosmic Distance Scale in tomorrow's lecture. Recorded 2006 February 23 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 33: Einstein's Universe


    What are the implications of Relativity for the Universe? This lecture introduces the Cosmological Principle, which states that the Universe is Homogeneous and Isotropic on Large Scales. Applying this to his then-new General Relativyt, Einstein got a surprise: the Universe must either expand or contract in response to all the matter/energy that fills it, something not observed in 1917. To attempt to stabilize the Universe, he introduced a Cosmological Constant (Lambda), that was to prove his greatest blunder. Subsequent theoretical and observational work was to establish that the Universe is indeed expanding systematically, if you look on scales large enough (the scale of galaxies). We will review observational evidence for the large-scale Homogeneity and Isotropy of the Universe, Einstein's brilliant conjecture, and see how the Cosmological Constant maybe wasn't such a blunder after all, as it has recently made a comeback of sorts. We'll explore these themes in greater detail in subsequent lectures. Re

  • Lecture 32: Space, Time, & Gravity: General Relativity


    What is gravity? Newton left that question unanswered when he formulated his inverse square law of the gravitational force, framing no hypothesis for what agency transmits gravity, only asserting it was an action at a distance. Einstein brought gravity into relativity by answering Newton's unanswered question with his General Relativity, our modern theory of gravity. In Einstein's formulation, Matter tells spacetime how to curve, and curved spacetime tells matter how to move. This lecture presents the basic picture of General Relativity, and introduces some of its observational consequences. The surprising conclusion is that instead of space and time being a backdrop for physics in Newton's view, united into spacetime by Relativity they are understood to be physical and dynamic. This is important for understanding how the Universe as a whole works. Recorded 2006 February 21 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 31: A Tale of Two World Views: Special Relativity


    What are space and time? To begin our exploration of the evolving Universe, we must first understand what we mean by space and time. This lecture contrasts the Newtonian view of the World, with its absolute space and absolute time, with that of Einstein, who showed that space and time were not absolute but relative constructs, and that only spacetime, unified by light, was independent of the observer. This requires such non-intuitive notions as the speed of light being the same for all observers regardless of their motion, and that observers moving relative to each other will agree on the same physical laws and speed of light, but disagree on lengths, times, masses, etc. measured by applying those laws. This sets the stage for Einstein's revision of the Law of Gravity, General Relativity, which we will review in the following lecture. Recorded 2006 February 20 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 30: Active Galaxies & Quasars


    What are Active Galaxies and Quasars? We have good reason to think that buried deep in the hearts of nearly every (?) bright galaxy is a supermassive black hole with masses of millions or even billions of times the mass of the Sun. Most, like the one in our Milky Way, are quiescent, but in about 1% of galaxies, they are fed enough matter (up to about a sun's worth per year), and light up as an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) that can outshine an entire galaxy full of billions of stars. This lecture reviews the observed properties of Active Galaxies, the riddle of the Quasars, and the recognition that they are powered by the accretion of matter onto supermassive black holes. The lecture ends with some open questions in this active area of current research. Recorded 2006 February 16 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 29: When Galaxies Collide


    What happens if two galaxies collide? The average distance between bright galaxies is only about 20 times their size, so over the history of the Universe (14 Billion years), we expect that most bright galaxies will have had at least one close gravitational encounter with a neighboring galaxy. This lecture explores what happens when two galaxies undergo interactions ranging from passing tidal interactions to head-on collisions, all the way to multiple collisions and galaxy "cannibalism" in the centers of large clusters. While at first glance galaxy interactions explain rare "peculiar" galaxies, on closer examination we find that galaxy interactions and mergers are central to understanding the assembly and evolution of galaxies. At the end, we take a speculative look at the distant future 3-4 Billions years hence if in fact Andromeda and the Milky Way are on a collision course. Recorded 2006 February 15 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

  • Lecture 28: Groups & Clusters of Galaxies


    Galaxies are found in groups and clusters, and these are only the start of a hierarchy of cosmic structures up to the largest scales observed. This lecture introduces the properties of groups and clusters of galaxies, superclusters (clusters of clusters), and large scale structure with filaments of superclusters surrouning vast voids. We start with our Local Group, and then expand our view to encompass the depths of intergalactic space. Recorded 2006 February 14 in 1008 Evans Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

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