First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SC03100526, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2018/19

Information on the course unit
Degree course First cycle degree in
SC1160, Degree course structure A.Y. 2008/09, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 7.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination ASTROPHYSICS 1
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Physics and Astronomy
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge ENRICO MARIA CORSINI FIS/05

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses FIS/05 Astronomy and Astrophysics 7.0

Course unit organization
Period Second semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 7.0 56 119.0 No turn

Start of activities 02/03/2020
End of activities 12/06/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2008 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
7 Commissione Astrofisica 1 2019-20 01/10/2019 30/11/2020 CORSINI ENRICO MARIA (Presidente)
6 Commissione Astrofisica 1 2018-19 01/10/2018 30/11/2019 CORSINI ENRICO MARIA (Presidente)

Prerequisites: Basic background in astronomy, physics, and scientific programming.
Target skills and knowledge: The student will learn about the structure of the Milky Way and external galaxies to tackle questions about their formation and evolution. The lectures and exercises emphasize the interplay between observations and theory in understanding the nature of the galaxies. The student will be able to recover the main physical properties of galaxies from the most important galaxy atlases and catalogs.
Examination methods: Written exam with exercises and oral exam about the topics of the lectures. Oral exam can be done only after the written exam.
Assessment criteria: The evaluation is based on the level of understanding of the topics discussed in lectures and exercises, on the ability of using them to address problems and solving exercises concerning the phenomenology of galaxies, on the effectiveness and precision of the exposition.
Course unit contents: 1) Structure and dynamics of the Milky Way: Fundamental and Local Standard of Rest. Peculiar velocity, solar motion, solar apex. Proper stellar motions and radial speed in the solar environment. Velocity ellipsoid. Oort formula and rotation curve of the Milky Way. Bottlinger diagram. Hydrodynamic equations. Asymmetric drift. Stellar populations and spiral structure of the Milky Way.
2) Morphology of galaxies: Morphological classification of normal galaxies (Hubble, de Vaucouleurs, van den Bergh, Morgan). Morphological classification of peculiar galaxies (Arp, Vorontsov-Velyaminov). Morphology and luminosity. Morphology of the galaxies of the Local Group. Problems in morphological classification.
3) Photometry of galaxies: Surface brightness, integrated luminosity, curves of growth, isophotes, equivalent and effective radius, radial surface-brightness profiles. Isophotes shape, isophotal twisting, deviations from perfect ellipses, disky and boxy isophotes. Photometric profiles of elliptical galaxies and bulges of disk galaxies (Hubble, de Vaucouleurs, Oemler, Nuker, King, Sersic). Photometric profiles of disks (Freeman I and II), Freeman law, high and low surface-brightness galaxies. One-dimensional parametric photometric decompositions. Parametric photometric decompositions along more than one axis, bulge ellipticity, disk inclination. Two-dimensional parametric photometric decompositions. Some highlights of photometric decompositions (B/D ratio, nuclear disks). Photometric parameters of elliptical, S0, spiral, and irregular galaxies.
4) Intrinsic shape of galaxies: Shape of elliptical galaxies, dust-lane ellipticals, equilibrium planes. Shape of disk galaxies, disk thickness. Apparent and intrisic flattening, inclination, distribution function of intrinsic flattenings.
5) Kinematics of galaxies: Interstellar medium (ionized, neutral, molecular, and hot gas, dust). Gas kinematics. Redshift, rotation curve, systemic velocity, velocity dispersion. Deprojection of the observed velocity, rigid-body rotation, flat portion of the rotation curve. Stellar kinematics, line-of-sight velocity distribution, h3 and h4 coefficients. Nuclear disks of gas and dust, extended gas disks, kinematic decouplings.
6) Mass of galaxies: Mass determination of spiral and elliptical galaxies using gas dynamics (ionized, molecular, neutral gas, X-ray halo). Mass determination of elliptical galaxies using stellar dynamics (Virial theorem, hydrodynamic equations). Mass-luminosity ratio, dark matter.
7) Distance ladder: Parallax, Baade-Wesselink method. Cepheids, RR Lyrae, Novae. Supernovae Ia, luminosity function of globular clusters and planetary nebulae. Tully-Fisher relation, Faber-Jackson relation, Dn-sigma relation. Distance of the Galactic center, LMC, M31, and Virgo cluster. Hubble law, Hubble constant.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Lectures and exercises with the use of blackboard and PowerPoint presentations on observational and theoretical topics related to the structure of galaxies. Some of the lectures and exercises are done at the Asiago Astrophysical Observatory. Lectures are given in Italian.
Additional notes about suggested reading: All the slides and notes of the lectures and exercises are available through the website of the course on the e-learning platform of the Department of Physics and Astronomy "G. Galilei" ( Suggested textbooks are not compulsory and can be found in the teacher's office.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Binney, J.; Merrifield, M., Galactic Astronomy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Sparke, L. S.; Gallagher, J. S., Galaxies in the Universe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Phillips, S., The Structure and Evolution of Galaxies. Chichester: Wiley, 2005. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Jones, M. H. ; Lamboure, R. J. A., Serjeant, S. (eds.), An Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Cerca nel catalogo

Innovative teaching methods: Teaching and learning strategies
  • Lecturing
  • Problem based learning
  • Working in group
  • Loading of files and pages (web pages, Moodle, ...)

Innovative teaching methods: Software or applications used
  • Moodle (files, quizzes, workshops, ...)