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Unit of study_

OLET1640: Astronomy: from Big Bang to Darkness

The theory and observations of modern cosmology have revolutionised our view of the universe in recent years. This unit of study explores the big picture of the expanding universe in which we live, where around 96% of its content is revealed but invisible to us! You will learn about the galaxies that are the visible signposts in the universe, the dark matter hiding within and around them, and the dark energy that must also be present to explain the distribution of mass and its motion in the universe on the largest scales. How do we know? How do we even measure distance on these scales? What does this tell us about the history of the universe and its fate? You will gain an appreciation and understanding of the methodology and techniques of modern astronomy that allow us to probe the universe across vast distances and times since the Big Bang and into the future. In doing this unit you will confront the challenging scientific and philosophical questions posed by our cosmological picture. The unit also includes opportunities for day and night observing sessions.

Code OLET1640
Academic unit Physics Academic Operations
Credit points 2

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. describe the make-up and characteristics of the Milky Way and external galaxies
  • LO2. outline the essential elements of the Big Bang model
  • LO3. carry out simulations to understand how spectroscopy is used to measure redshift, and apply this to demonstrate how distance and the expansion of the universe are measured
  • LO4. outline the key pieces of evidence for the Big Bang model and the resulting history of universe
  • LO5. explain the significance of observational constraints in models of the universe that predict the existence of dark matter and dark energy
  • LO6. discuss the significance of modern cosmology to indigenous and modern astronomy, culture and our changing world view
  • LO7. carry out simple observations of the planets and stars using an optical telescope to illustrate the central role of observation in astronomy.