AST 494 / AST 591 — Astrophysics Seminar, Fall 2007
News from the Frontier: z = 5 and Beyond

Meeting Time:   Fri  12:15 – 1:30 PM
                            (First meeting: Fri Aug 24 2007  12:15 PM)

Place:         PSF 226
Instructor: Rolf Jansen

Rolf Jansen: office: PSF 230
office hours: by appointment
telephone: (480) 727-7119

Course Objectives:
The aim of this course is to introduce you, the students, to recent developments at high redshift (z ≥ 5) and, through presentations followed by discussion with active participation by all students, determine where the active areas of high-redshift research are at present. Textbooks, by their nature, are out of date at the time of their publication. In this course we aim to bridge the gap between passive acquisition of knowledge and active PhD research by reading and discussing papers from the professional literature. The emphasis will lie on the development and uncertainties of current scientific theory and method.
Oral reports on the papers selected will be presented in class at the rate of one ~45 minute presentation per week (assuming the number of students is 10 or less). Oral reports by senior graduate students, postdocs and/or talks by visiting scientists would be on a voluntary and as-time-permits basis only. Each report should consist of a general introduction covering the scope of the paper and where it fits within the larger field of research of which the paper is part, followed by a more detailed summary of the original research presented in the paper and a discussion of its impact. Each presentation is followed by time for questions and answers, and discussion by the students, using questions e-mailed to me in advance of each class as a guide.
Dates for the presentations(s) by each student will be assigned within the first week of the first class — first come, first serve (see the Seminar Schedule below). The choice of paper to discuss will be up to the student, but certain restrictions and requirements will apply (see also Tips.., below). I'll be happy to discuss that choice.
Given the time and nature of this seminar course, it is fine to bring your lunch.

Course Grades:
70% of the final grade will be based on the presentation, where the emphasis lies more on content and clarity than on how fancy the presentation looks. Each student is responsible for providing me no later than one week before their scheduled presentation the full bibliographic reference to a paper of their choice (i.e., the last possible moment will be in class the week before). A full bibliographic reference includes at the very least the name of the lead author, publication year, name or abbreviation of the journal, volume, and page number. I will place a link on the class web-page to an electronic version of this paper (PDF/Postscript), so all students can download and read it, and formulate questions. Non-timely submission of a reference will result in a reduction of the grade. Also, after class, the student must send me the electronic presentation, preferably as a ≤2.0 Mb PDF file with all fonts included (if necessary, remove background images to reduce the file size when exporting to PDF from PowerPoint or similar presentation software). I will create a link to it into the following table (see Seminar Schedule below), so it can be viewed and consulted later.
30% of the final grade will be based on the participation by each student in the discussion of each paper, as demonstrated by the posing of non-trivial questions and reasoning demonstrating the use of the scientific method. Each student, except the student giving the presentation, must prepare and e-mail me at least two non-trivial questions regarding the paper no later than 5:00PM of the Thursday before each class (except if that class is a Special Seminar by a visiting scientist).

For the computer-based presentations (i.e., HTML, PDF, Power Point, etc..), a laptop computer running Redhat 9 Linux (with Mozilla 1.4.2 browser, Acrobat Reader 5.0 [PDF], and OpenOffice 1.0.2 [PPT]) will be available in the classroom, but students are free to bring and use their own Windows, Linux or Macintosh laptop. If you use a Macintosh, remember to bring a DVI-to-VGA adaptor to connect to the LCD projector. Note, that the projector provides a 1024×768 pixel standard field of view, so you may have to adjust your display settings if you have a wide-screen laptop. It is recommended to practice this in advance of your presentation.
If you prepare a PowerPoint presentation and do not plan to use your own laptop, send your presentation no later than Thursday afternoon preceding class to me by e-mail as an attachment, so I can check that it displays properly: proprietary fonts from Microsoft, Adobe, and other commercial founderies (e.g., math and greek symbols, fancy fonts) often don't display or are substituted by unreadable characters on Open Source machines!

Tips for finding a suitable paper:
For a 45 min presentation, single 4 or 5-page Letters are not suitable (but three related ones might well be). Typically, papers should be the equivalent of 15–20 pages in a main journal (multi-page tables or atlasses of figures, and the list of references don't count toward this number; manuscripts in pre-print format should be at least 3× as many pages).
Papers that had/have a large impact will be cited by many other authors. Papers with few or no citations, or mostly self-citations by the authors, may not be suitable for discussion. Papers are required to (1) have been published in a peer reviewed journal or been accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal and (2) have at least 1 citation by researchers other than the authors of that paper. Discussion of a paper that recently appeared on 'astro-ph' may be OK if the above conditions are met, and the "Comments" give a specific volume/issue of the peer-reviewed journal where such paper is scheduled to appear.

Although not a complete depository of all scientific literature in astronomy and astrophysics, none the less, astronomy as a science is blessed in having a very large, full-text digital library: the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) ( For example, a search for a paper that I discussed a while back returned:

1 1962ApJ...136..748E
1.000 11/1962 A   F   G   R   C   S   O   U   H
Eggen, O. J.; Lynden-Bell, D.; Sandage, A. R.
Evidence from the motions of old stars that the Galaxy collapsed.

A full text, printable version of this paper may be obtained by clicking on the "F" link (or by clicking on the full reference link or "A" link, and following the links on the abstract page that it opens). Often, there is also a "G" that points to GIF-format scans of each page of the paper or an "E" that points to an HTML version (both may come handy to extract/retrieve a digital version of a figure, table or equation to insert in your presentation). To check the number of citations, one can click the link marked "C".
Full resolution Postscript versions of figures can often be found on the LANL ( preprint server: ( by searching for the lead author(s) and selecting [..., other] as the download format and then Source (this will allow you to download a tar-ball, which includes the originally submitted figures). Note, that the preprint can be of an earlier year than the actual year of publication.

The following is the schedule of presentations:

Fall 2007 Seminar Schedule
Date Person Paper Title + link to presentation
8/24   Rolf Jansen Introduction to the Class
8/29   Renu Malhotra
SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101 3:40PM)
The Bombardment History of the Terrestrial Planets
8/31   Brenda Frye
(Dublin U.)
  Special seminar    (PSF-226 12:15–1:30PM)
Strongly-lensed Galaxies from 3 < z < 5
9/07   Michael Rutkowski PS/PDF, PS/PDF Gravity Wave background due to black hole formation and Cosmic Ray-generated  6Li from Pop III, de Araujo et al. 2002, MNRAS 330, 561 and Rollinde et al. 2006, ApJ 651, 658
9/12   Craig Wheeler
(UTexas, Austin)
SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101 3:40PM)
The Lives and Deaths of Supernovae
9/14   Natalie Hinkel PS/PDF, PS/PDF A Little Bit of Pop II, A Little Bit of Pop III,
Mackey et al. 2003, ApJ 586, 1 and Wyithe & Loeb 2006, Nature 441, 322
9/21   Simon Porter PS/PDF Gravitational Collapse and Neutrino Emission of Population III Massive Stars,
Nakazato, Sumiyoshi, Yamada 2006, ApJ 645, 519
9/26   Diane Wooden
(NASA Ames)
SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101 3:40PM)
Comets are Mixtures of Fire and Ice: Implications for Radial Mixing in our Protoplanetary Disk
9/28   William Gray PS/PDF Formation of z ~ 6 Quasars from Hierarchical Galaxy Mergers,
Li, Hernquist, Robertson, et al. 2007, ApJ 665, 187
10/03   Jay Melosh
SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101 3:40PM)
Planetary Impacts and the Origin of the Earth and Moon
10/05   Jon Oiler PS/PDF Gamma-Ray Bursts as a Probe of the Very High Redshift Universe,
Lamb & Reichart 2000, ApJ 536, 1
10/12       No class
10/19   Lifang Xia PS/PDF, PS/PDF The reionization history at high redshifts,
Haiman & Holder 2003, ApJ 595, 1 and Holder, Haiman, et al. 2003, ApJ 595, 13
10/24   Bruce Balik
SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101 3:40PM)
New Tricks of Old Stars
10/26   Nahks Tr'Ehnl PS/PDF An Empirically Calibrated Model for Interpreting the Evolution of Galaxies during the Reionization Era,
Stark, Loeb, & Ellis 2007, ApJ 668, 627
11/02   Vithal Tilvi PS/PDF The Properties of Lyα Emitting Galaxies in Hierarchical Galaxy Formation Models,
Le Delliou, Lacey, Baugh, & Morris 2006, MNRAS 365, 712
11/09   Emily McLinden PS/PDF Gemini Near-Infrared Spectroscopy of Luminous z ~ 6 Quasars,
Jiang, Fan, Vestergaard, et al. 2007, AJ 134, 1150
11/14   Rogier Windhorst
SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101 3:40PM)
JWST: How Can It Measure First Light, Reionization, and Galaxy Assembly?
11/16       No class
11/23       No class — Thanksgiving Day weekend
11/28   Jean Turner
SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101 3:40PM)
Extreme Star Formation in Nearby Galaxies
11/30   Michael Pagano PS/PDF, PS/PDF Simulating cosmic reionization at large scales – I + II: Geometry & 21cm emission features,
Iliev, Mellema, et al. 2006, MNRAS 369, 1625 and Mellema, Iliev, et al. 2006, MNRAS 372, 679

    recommended Dept. of Physics / School of Earth & Space Exploration Colloquia/Seminars
    class introduction / Special Seminar by visiting scientist or new staff (may be Fri 12:15 PM / Mon 12:30 PM in PSF-226)

Click on the links below for the Astrophysics Seminar schedules and student presentations of previous semesters:

  • Spring 2007 (Jansen) Nearby Galaxies: How well do we know our Cosmic Backyard?
  • Fall 2006 (Windhorst) Black Hole Growth & Galaxy Assembly: From First Light & Reionization to the Present
  • Spring 2006 (Jansen) Planet Formation and Our Milky Way Galaxy
  • Fall 2005      (Jansen) Star Formation and Chemical Enrichment: From the First Stars to Present-day Galaxies

Last update: Dec 3 2007 [RAJ]