The Physics of Galaxies and Black Holes

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


Courses from the Bachelor in Physics


The aim of the course is to address some fundamental topics concerning the study of galaxies and accreting supermassive black holes, also called active galactic nuclei. The student will receive a complete overview of the physical properties of galaxies and active galactic nuclei in the various bands of the electromagnetic spectrum and their evolution across cosmic time. 

The topics also include a physical understanding of the main galaxy scaling laws by performing statistical analysis of data obtained from large astrophysical surveys and a detailed discussion on the most relevant open question of modern astrophysics. The course will cover one of the long-standing problems in astrophysics concerning the processes that regulate the formation of new stars in galaxies and discuss the role of supermassive black holes in this framework. The course also comprises practical hands-on lectures aiming at providing a comprehensive approach to spectroscopic analysis for studying the first population of galaxies and supermassive black holes in the universe. At the end of the course, the student is expected to have a sound knowledge of both the state of the art of current astrophysical experiments and the future perspective in the light of upcoming ground- and space-based astrophysical facilities. 


Educational aims

Understanding of the main physical processes determining the structure, dynamics, and evolution of galaxies.  The course also provides deep knowledge of the physical process and open questions related to the study of supermassive black holes. At the end of the course, the student will also have a deep knowledge of the techniques for the analysis of the spectroscopic data, which are commonly in millimeter, near-infrared, optical, and X-ray wavelengths.

Bibliographical references

Binney and Tremaine, "Galactic dynamics", Princeton University Press;

H. Netzer: "The physics and evolution of Active Galactic Nuclei", Cambridge University Press

H. Mo,  F. van de Bosch, and S. White, “Galaxy formation and evolution”,  Cambridge University Press

Articles and references provided during the lectures