Lecture notes given at the 43rd Saas Fee Advanced
School, March 11-16, 2013, Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland.
Abstract: What should these lectures be? The subject assigned to us is so broad that many books can be written about it. So, in planning these lectures I had several options.
One would be to focus on a narrow subset of topics and to cover them in great detail. Such a subset necessarily would be highly personal and useful to a few readers at best. Another option would be to give a very shallow overview of the whole field, but then it won't be very much different from a highly compressed version of a university course (which anyone can take if they wish so).
So, I decided to be selfish and to prepare these lectures as if I was teaching my own graduate student. Given my research interests, I selected what the student would need to know to be able to discuss science with me and to work on joint research projects. So, the story presented below is both personal and incomplete, but it does cover several subjects that are poorly represented in the existing textbooks (if at all).
Some of topics I focus on below are closely connected, others are disjoint, some are just side detours on specific technical questions. There is an overlapping theme, however. Our goal is to follow the cosmic gas from large scales, low densities, (relatively) simple physics to progressively smaller scales, higher densities, closer relation to galaxies, and more complex and uncertain physics. So, we (you - the reader, and me - the author) are going to follow a "yellow brick road" from the gas well beyond any galaxy confines to the actual sites of star formation and stellar feedback. On the way we will stop at some places for a tour and run without looking back through some others. So, the road will be uneven, but I hope that some readers find it useful.
The paper is in pdf format.