Experimental Astrophysics

Period of duration of course
Course info
Number of course hours
Number of hours of lecturers of reference
Number of hours of supplementary teaching

Type of exam

Oral exam and seminars


Courses from the Bachelor in Physics


We will present some of the techniques used nowadays to observe the Universe on different scales and epochs. The thermal history of the Universe will be introduced, together with several investigation methods related to the study of the cosmic microwave background, signature of the "Recombination era" that drives the Universe in the so-called "Dark ages". We will discuss the end of this epoch, as set by the "Cosmic reionization" process. In particular, (i) we will study constraints on the end of this process by means of absorption spectra towards luminous and distant sources; (ii) we will present the formation of chemical elements from primordial to stellar nucleosynthesis and how the observational study of their distribution and abundance in the diffuse gas can constrain galaxy formation and evolution processes; (iii) we will discuss the main sources responsible for the reionization and metal enrichment of the Universe (namely galaxies and accreting black holes); (iv) we will review the main observational techniques used to identify and characterize the first galaxies and quasars formed after the Big Bang, with special emphasis to multi-wavelength observational data (including gravitational waves) obtained with current state-of-the-art observatories (HST, ALMA, Chandra, LISA); (v) we will compare observational data of the intergalactic medium, galaxies, accreting super massive black holes with dedicated zoom-in cosmological hydrodynamical simulations.

Educational aims

- Provide a general picture of the observational methods used in Cosmology and Astrophysics.

- Provide a basic theoretical background for understanding the physical processes behind the observed phenomena.

- Stimulate the students to study open questions at the forefront of the astrophysical research through the most advanced observational techniques.

Bibliographical references

Slides presented during the course and bibliographic references will be given during the lessons.

Reference books:

Stephen Serjeant, "Observational Cosmology", Cambridge University Press

Malcolm S. Longair, "Galaxy formation", Springer

Bruce T. Draine, "Physics of the Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium", Princeton Series in Astrophysics