Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics


Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes.


Course reviews will be shown here


This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.

 18 hours of lecture videos

 24 lectures

10 Problem sets with solutions 

Course Materials

Download all course pages [zip - 10MB]


See reading assignments for individual lectures

About the instructor

Charles Bailyn is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of Astronomy and Physics and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Astronomy at Yale. He earned a B.S. in astronomy and physics from Yale in 1981 and a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard in 1987. His recent research efforts have focused on observations of binary star systems containing black holes and on stellar collisions in dense star clusters. He has lectured on "How To See a Black Hole" to school groups, Yale alumni, and amateur astronomical societies. He is the author of over 100 scientific papers, and his work was featured in the PBS mini-series, Mysteries of Deep Space.


Creative Commons License
astr 160: Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics by Charles Bailyn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at

Course content

  • Lecture 1 - Introduction

  • Lecture 2 - Planetary Orbits

  • Lecture 3 - Our Solar System and the Pluto Problem

  • Lecture 4 - Discovering Exoplanets: Hot Jupiters

  • Lecture 5 - Planetary Transits

  • Lecture 6 - Microlensing, Astrometry and Other Methods

  • Lecture 7 - Direct Imaging of Exoplanets

  • Update 1 - The Kepler Mission

  • Lecture 8 - Introduction to Black Holes

  • Lecture 9 - Special and General Relativity

  • Lecture 10 - Tests of Relativity

  • Lecture 11 - Special and General Relativity (cont.)

  • Lecture 12 - Stellar Mass Black Holes

  • Lecture 13 - Stellar Mass Black Holes (cont.)

  • Lecture 14 - Pulsars

  • Lecture 15 - Supermassive Black Holes

  • Exam 2 - Midterm Exam 2

  • Lecture 16 - Hubble's Law and the Big Bang

  • Lecture 17 - Hubble's Law and the Big Bang (cont.)

  • Lecture 18 - Hubble's Law and the Big Bang (cont.)

  • Lecture 19 - Omega and the End of the Universe

  • Lecture 20 - Dark Matter

  • Lecture 21 - Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe and the Big Rip

  • Lecture 22 - Supernovae

  • Lecture 23 - Other Constraints: The Cosmic Microwave Background

  • Lecture 24 - The Multiverse and Theories of Everything

Interested? Enroll to this course right now.

There is more to learn