Astrophysics 616: General Relativity, Black Holes, and Cosmology
Mike Guidry (
Fall, 2013

Class Meeting Times

Tuesday and Thursdays, 12:40-1:55 PM, Nielsen 512


  1. Homework 20% (Not graded, but solutions will be provided). 100% for homework turned in on time and complete. Minus 5% per day for late or incomplete. Here is the homework assignment schedule NOTE: this is a webpage that may be updated during the semester so you should check it weekly for changes. Here are solution sheets for assigned exercises (do not consult solutions before you have turned in assignments!)

  2. Midterm Test 40% (Test will be take-home)

  3. Final Test 40% (Test will be take-home)

Optional Extra Credit

Up to 5 points added to final average for a presentation in the astrophysics seminar, or on a topic in astrophysics for some other recognized seminar at UT or ORNL (e.g., the particle physics or nuclear physics seminars). Topic can be journal-club or research in nature. You must notify me of your intentions so that I can approve the topic and schedule to attend.


Theoretical Astrophysics, Mike Guidry (partial draft available as pdf files)

Link to Chapter pdf files for Theoretical Astrophysics. These directories contain chapters for both Astrophysics 615 and Astrophysics 616. Astrophysics 616 covers selected material from Chapters 15 and above.

Course material in Lecture format (this is a condensed version of the above book chapters that will be used for presentation in class.

Additional Resources:

Web links

The typset lecture notes for my Astrophysics 490 advanced undergraduate introduction to general relativity, black holes, and cosmology are at

(Same username/password as for this course.) You may find these notes useful as they cover much of the same material as this course, but at a less-advanced level and with more background filled in. I particularly recommend that you be conversant with the material in Chapters 1, 2, 4, 5 of the 490 notes as background for Astrophysics 616 (we will cover the material in Chapter 3 of the 490 notes explicitly in the present course).


Potentially useful Maple worksheets and tutorials (binary files, so transfer to your machine and open with Maple11 or later). The tutorials were written by others, not by me. The standalone Maple worksheets are mostly mine. Some may be not completely debugged and tested, so they have worked as tested but they are offered as-is with no warranties. UT has site licenses for both Maple and MatLab (see ). Both are useful for problems of the sort encountered in this course and I encourage you to learn to use them if you haven't already.

General Comments:

The subjects to be addressed: general relativity, black holes, and cosmology, are extremely interesting and I think that you should enjoy this course. The required mathematics (basics of tensor algebra and differential geometry) will be introduced as needed. It is useful to have a working knowledge of introductory astronomy, but not essential since you can pick that up as needed. (If you do not have a familiarity with astronomy, you may find it useful to get access to an undergraduate-level text for reference.) I will assume that you come to the class with a knowledge of the essentials of special relativity, but not necessarily with any initial knowledge of general relativity.

Students with Disabilities

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a documented disability, please let me know and contact the Office of Disability Services at 2227 Dunford Hall (telephone/TTY 865-974-6087; e-mail to ensure that you are properly registered for services.