Astrophysics in a Nutshell / Edition 1

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Overview

A concise but thorough introduction to the observational data and theoretical concepts underlying modern astronomy, Astrophysics in a Nutshell is designed for advanced undergraduate science majors taking a one-semester course. This well-balanced and up-to-date textbook covers the essentials of modern astrophysics—from stars to cosmology—emphasizing the common, familiar physical principles that govern astronomical phenomena, and the interplay between theory and observation.

In addition to traditional topics such as stellar remnants, galaxies, and the interstellar medium, Astrophysics in a Nutshell introduces subjects at the forefront of modern research, including black holes, dark matter, gravitational lensing, and dark energy, all updated with some of the latest observational results. To aid physical understanding, mathematical derivations are kept as simple, short, and clear as possible, and order-of-magnitude estimates, dimensional analysis, and scaling arguments are frequently used. These no-nonsense, "back-of-the-envelope" calculations train students to think like physicists. The book is amply illustrated with simple, clear figures and each chapter ends with a set of problems.

In addition to serving as a course textbook, Astrophysics in a Nutshell is an ideal review for a qualifying exam and a handy reference for teachers and researchers.

  • The most concise and up-to-date astrophysics textbook for science majors
  • Contains a broad and well-balanced choice of traditional subjects and current research topics
  • Uses simple, short, and clear derivations of physical results
  • Trains students in the essential skills of order-of-magnitude analysis
  • Includes teaching problems with each chapter


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Editorial Reviews

Choice - K.L. Schick
[M]aoz makes generous and excellent use of back-of-the-envelope calculations and approximations to the more complete theory, accurate enough to both illustrate the physics and to arrive at decent numerical answers...Lots of material is squeezed into this thin volume. The treatment of stellar physics is particularly is particularly insightful; other topics—galaxies and galactic structure and cosmology, are also very well done.
The Observatory - Leon Mestel
The presentation of so much material within 250 pages is done very skillfully, with a judicious balance between mathematical discussion and physical argument. The pedagogic value of the text is greatly enhanced by the problems given at the end of each chapter. Altogether, the book lives well up to the publisher's declared aims.
Time Magazines Higher Education
Tel Aviv University professor Dan Maoz aims to provide a concise guide to the subject for advanced science undergraduates. The essentials of modern astrophysics are covered, from traditional topics such as stellar remnants and galaxies to recent research including dark matter and dark energy, while training students in order-of-magnitude analysis.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2009 Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award for an academic book, American Astronomical Society

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2007

"Tel Aviv University professor Dan Maoz aims to provide a concise guide to the subject for advanced science undergraduates. The essentials of modern astrophysics are covered, from traditional topics such as stellar remnants and galaxies to recent research including dark matter and dark energy, while training students in order-of-magnitude analysis."Times Higher Education

"[M]aoz makes generous and excellent use of back-of-the-envelope calculations and approximations to the more complete theory, accurate enough to both illustrate the physics and to arrive at decent numerical answers...Lots of material is squeezed into this thin volume. The treatment of stellar physics is particularly is particularly insightful; other topics—galaxies and galactic structure and cosmology, are also very well done."—K.L. Schick, Choice

"The presentation of so much material within 250 pages is done very skillfully, with a judicious balance between mathematical discussion and physical argument. The pedagogic value of the text is greatly enhanced by the problems given at the end of each chapter. Altogether, the book lives well up to the publisher's declared aims."—Leon Mestel, The Observatory

Times Higher Education
Tel Aviv University professor Dan Maoz aims to provide a concise guide to the subject for advanced science undergraduates. The essentials of modern astrophysics are covered, from traditional topics such as stellar remnants and galaxies to recent research including dark matter and dark energy, while training students in order-of-magnitude analysis.
Choice
[M]aoz makes generous and excellent use of back-of-the-envelope calculations and approximations to the more complete theory, accurate enough to both illustrate the physics and to arrive at decent numerical answers...Lots of material is squeezed into this thin volume. The treatment of stellar physics is particularly is particularly insightful; other topics—galaxies and galactic structure and cosmology, are also very well done.
— K.L. Schick
The Observatory
The presentation of so much material within 250 pages is done very skillfully, with a judicious balance between mathematical discussion and physical argument. The pedagogic value of the text is greatly enhanced by the problems given at the end of each chapter. Altogether, the book lives well up to the publisher's declared aims.
— Leon Mestel
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691125848
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/5/2007
  • Series: In a Nutshell Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 268
  • Sales rank: 1,409,053
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Maoz is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Tel-Aviv University. His main research interests are supermassive black holes, gravitational lensing, and supernovae.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi Constants and Units xv

Chapter 1: Introduction 1
1.1 Observational Techniques 2
Problems 8

Chapter 2: Stars: Basic Observations 10
2.1 Review of Blackbody Radiation 10
2.2 Measurement of Stellar Parameters 14
2.3 The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram 27
Problems 29

Chapter 3: Stellar Physics 31
3.1 Hydrostatic Equilibrium and the Virial Theorem 32
3.2 Mass Continuity 36
3.3 Radiative Energy Transport 36
3.4 Energy Conservation 41
3.5 The Equations of Stellar Structure 42
3.6 The Equation of State 43
3.7 Opacity 45
3.8 Scaling Relations on the Main Sequence 46
3.9 Nuclear Energy Production 48
3.10 Nuclear Reaction Rates 53
3.11 Solution of the Equations of Stellar Structure 58
3.12 Convection 58
Problems 61

Chapter 4: Stellar Evolution and Stellar Remnants 65
4.1 Stellar Evolution 65
4.2 White Dwarfs 69
4.3 Supernovae and Neutron Stars 81
4.4 Pulsars and Supernova Remnants 88
4.5 Black Holes 95
4.6 Interacting Binaries 99
Problems 108

Chapter 5: Star Formation, H II Regions, and the Interstellar Medium 114
5.1 Cloud Collapse and Star Formation 114
5.2 H II Regions 122
5.3 Components of the Interstellar Medium 133
5.4 Dynamics of Star-forming Regions 136
Problems 137

Chapter 6: The Milky Way and Other Galaxies 140
6.1 Structure of the Milky Way 140
6.2 Galaxy Demographics 162
6.3 Active Galactic Nuclei and Quasars 165
6.4 Groups and Clusters of Galaxies 171
Problems 175

Chapter 7: Cosmology: Basic Observations 178
7.1 The Olbers Paradox 178
7.2 Extragalactic Distances 179
7.3 Hubble’s Law 185
7.4 Age of the Universe from Cosmic Clocks 187
7.5 Isotropy of the Universe 188
Problems 189

Chapter 8: Big Bang Cosmology 190
8.1 The Friedmann-Robertson-Walker Metric 190
8.2 The Friedmann Equations 193
8.3 History and Future of the Universe 196
8.4 A Newtonian Derivation of the Friedmann Equations 202
8.5 Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe 204
Problems 206

Chapter 9: Tests and Probes of Big Bang Cosmology 209
9.1 Cosmological Redshift and Hubble’s Law 209
9.2 The Cosmic Microwave Background 213
9.3 Anisotropy of the Microwave Background 217
9.4 Nucleosynthesis of the Light Elements 223
9.5 Quasars and Other Distant Sources as Cosmological Probes 226
Problems 229

Appendix. Recommended Reading and Websites 235
Index 239

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