AST 494 / AST 591 — Astrophysics Seminar, Spring 2008
The Coma Cluster of Galaxies

Meeting Time:   Fri  12:15 – 1:30 PM
                            (First meeting: Fri Jan 18 2008  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 seminal papers and more recent developments in research of the nearest example of a rich galaxy cluster: the Coma Cluster of Galaxies — long thought to be a textbook example of a virialized cluster. We will do so through presentations followed by discussion with active participation by all students, and determine what are the active areas of research on the contents and environment of this nearby cluster. Textbooks, by their nature, are out of date at the time of their publication.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 13 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.

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). 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).
Note that failure to submit questions for at least 50% of the presentations means that even if you give a perfect presentation, your final grade can be no better than a C+. Also note that, whereas a question can be trivial, confused or poorly posed, the only stupid question is a question not asked.

A full bibliographic reference includes at the very least (1) the name of the lead author, (2) publication year, (3) name or abbreviation of the journal, (4) volume number, and (5) page number. Do not send me just a web-link to a PDF file or just a PDF file. It is OK to send me a link in addition to the full bibliographic reference, but in that case please specify the relevant ADS abstract page (for example: ).

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 1.1 [PPT]) will be available in the classroom, but students are free to and will likely prefer 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 non-trivial 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.

Here is a link to an incomplete list of papers covering a random set of topics related to the Coma Cluster. Some may be suitable for discussion, other may just give you an idea what topic to pursue.

The following is the schedule of presentations:

Spring 2008 Seminar Schedule
Date Person Paper Title + link to presentation
1/18   Rolf Jansen   Introduction to the Class
1/23   Frank Timmes
  SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101   3:40–4:30PM)
New Capabilities for SESE in Nuclear and Computational Astrophysics
1/24   Anna Pasquali
  SESE Astronomy Seminar   (PSF-566   3:00–4:00PM)
What ever happened to stellar feedback?
1/25   Ignacio Ferreras
(King's College)
  Special seminar (PSF-566   12:15–1:30PM, i.e.: regular time, different room)
Focusing on Early-Type Galaxies
1/30   Patrick Young
  SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101   3:40–4:30PM)
Connecting Theory to Observations for Cosmic Explosions
2/01   Natalie Hinkel PS/PDF Galaxy Populations in the Coma and Distant Clusters: Evolution of k+a Galaxies and the Role of the ICM, Poggianti, B.M., Bridges, T.J., Komiyama, Y., et al. 2004, ApJ 601, 197
2/08   Jon Oiler PS/PDF On Iron Enrichment, Star Formation, and Type Ia Supernovae in Galaxy Clusters,
Loewenstein, M. 2006, ApJ 648, 230
2/15   Mike Pagano   (canceled due to illness)
2/20   Alice Quillen
  SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101   3:40–4:30PM)
Sculpting Circumstellar Disks in the Planetary Regime
2/21   Manoj Kaplinghat
(UC Irvine)
Particle Physics and Astrophysics Seminar (PSF-306 2:00–3:00PM)
Learning about dark matter from our neighbors
2/21   Robert Thacker
SESE Astronomy Seminar (PSF-566 3:30–4:30PM)
2 easy pieces: radial profile breaks in disk galaxies & variability of substructure in dark matter halos
2/22   Carola Ellinger PS/PDF,
Substructure in the Coma Cluster, Structure and Dynamics, & Giants versus Dwarfs,
Fitchett, M., & Webster, R. 1987, ApJ 317, 653; Colless, M., & Dunn, A.M. 1996, ApJ 458, 435; and Edwards, S.A., Colless, M., Bridges, T.J., et al. 2002, ApJ 567, 178
2/22   Alice Quillen
Astronomy Seminar (PSF-226 2:30–3:30PM)
Spitzer/IRS observations of Cen A and models for episodic star formation
2/27   Mordecai-Mark
MacLow (AMNH)
  SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101   3:40–4:30PM)
Cloud Fragmentation to Planetesimal Formation: Examples of turbulent effects in ...
2/29   William Gray PS/PDF Dynamical modelling of luminous and dark matter in 17 Coma early-type galaxies,
Thomas, J., Saglia, R.P., Bender, R., et al. 2007, MNRAS 382, 657
3/05   Jean-Luc Margot
  SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101   3:40–4:30PM)
New Views of Mercury from MESSENGER and Radar Data
3/07       No class
3/14       Spring break — no class
3/19   Lars Bildsten
  SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101   3:40–4:30PM)
Explosions in Accreting White Dwarfs: From Novae to Supernovae
3/21   Emily McLinden PS/PDF,
Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium Associated with the Coma Cluster and Virgo Cluster,
Takei, Y., Henry, J.P., Finoguenov, A., et al. 2007, ApJ 655, 831 and Fujimoto, R., Takei, Y., Tamura, T., et al. 2004, PASJ 56, L29
3/26   Deidre Hunter
(Lowell Obs.)
SESE Astronomy Seminar (PSF-566 12:30–13:30PM [note change in date/time])
Outer Stellar and Gas Disks of Dwarf Galaxies
3/27   Ken Nagamine
SESE Astronomy Seminar (PSF-566 3:00–4:00PM)
Lymanα Emitters and Lyman Break Galaxies at redshift z = 3–6 in Cosmological Simulations
3/28   Katie Kaleida PS/PDF Star formation in early-type galaxies in the Coma cluster,
Caldwell, N., Rose, J.A., Sharples, R.M., et al. 1993, AJ 106, 473
3/28   Ayesha Begum
(Cambridge, UK)
SESE Astronomy Seminar (PSF-226 1:30–2:30PM) [note change in date/time]
FIGGS: Faint Irregular Galaxies GMRT Survey
4/04   Simon Porter PS/PDF,
The Mass of the Coma Cluster: X-ray, Optical and Weak-Lensing results,
Hughes, J.P. 1989, ApJ 337, 21 and Kubo, J.M., Stebbins, A., Annis, J., et al. 2007, ApJ 671, 1466
4/09   Jill Knapp
  SESE Colloquium    (PSF-101   3:40–4:30PM)
Low-Mass Star Formation in the Taurus Molecular Cloud
4/10   Jill Knapp
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-226   3:00–4:00PM)
White Dwarf Science with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
4/11   Michael Rutkowski PS/PDF, PS/PDF The Globular Cluster Systems in the Coma Ellipticals. I + II, Kavelaars, J., Harris, W., et al. 2000,
ApJ 533, 125 and Harris, W., Kavelaars, J., et al. 2000, ApJ 533, 137
4/17   Daniel Stern
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-566   3:00–4:00PM)
Obscured Quasars at High Redshift
4/18   Lifang Xia PS/PDF A Photometric and Spectroscopic Study of Dwarf and Giant Galaxies in the Coma Cluster. III. Spectral Ages and Metallicities,
Poggianti, B.M., Bridges, T.J., Mobasher, B., et al. 2001, ApJ 562, 689
4/25   Mike Pagano PS/PDF Particle reacceleration in the Coma cluster: radio properties and hard X-ray emission,
Brunetti, G., Setti, G., Feretti, L., & Giovannini, G. 2001, MNRAS 320, 365
4/30   Ben Weiner
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-566   3:00–4:00PM)
Outflows from star-forming galaxies at z = 1.4
5/07   Christy Tremonti
  SESE Astronomy Seminar    (PSF-226   12:00–1:00PM)

    recommended Dept. of Physics / School of Earth & Space Exploration Colloquia.
    class introduction / Special Seminar by visiting scientist or new staff at our regular class time, or Astronomy Seminar

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

  • Fall 2007      (Jansen) News from the Frontier: z = 5 and Beyond
  • 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: Apr 29 2008 [RAJ]