The Early Universe

Physics H&S - Humanities & Sciences

Course Description

Intended to complement PHYSICS 361, this course will cover the earlier period in cosmology up to and including nucleosynthesis. The focus will be on high energy, early universe physics. This includes topics such as inflation and reheating including generation of density perturbations and primordial gravitational waves, baryogenesis mechanisms, out of equilibrium particle production processes in the early universe e.g. both thermal and non-thermal production mechanisms for dark matter candidates such as WIMPs and axions, and production of the light nuclei and neutrinos. Techniques covered include for example out of equilibrium statistical mechanics such as the Boltzmann equation, and dynamics of scalar fields in the expanding universe. Other possible topics if time permits may include cosmological phase transitions and objects such as monopoles and primordial black holes. We will use quantum field theory, although it will hopefully be accessible for those without much background in that area. Suggested prerequisites: general relativity at the level of PHYSICS 262, some knowledge of cosmology and in particular the basics of FRW cosmology as in PHYSICS 361 for example, and some knowledge of quantum field theory e.g. at the level of PHYSICS 331 as a corequisite.

Grading Basis

ROP - Letter or Credit/No Credit





Course Repeatable for Degree Credit?


Course Component


Enrollment Optional?