The Chemically Controlled Cosmos: Astronomical Molecules from the Big Bang to Exploding Stars

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Molecules in the early Universe acted as natural temperature regulators, keeping the primordial gas cool and, in turn, allowing galaxies and stars to be born. Even now, simple chemistries continue to control a wide variety of the exotic objects that populate our cosmos. What are the tools of the trade for the cosmic chemist and what can they teach us about the Universe in which we live? There are the questions answered in this engaging and informative guide to The Chemically Controlled Cosmos. In clear, non-technical terms, and without formal mathematics, we learn how to study and understand the behaviour of molecules in a host of astronomical situations. We examine the formation of stars deep within interstellar clouds, the origin of our own Solar System, the cataclysmic deaths of massive stars that explode as supernovae, and the hearts of active galactic nuclei, the most powerful objects in the Universe. We are given an accessible introduction to the wealth of astrophysics and an understanding of how cosmic chemistry allows the investigation of many of the most exciting questions concerning astronomers today.
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Editorial Reviews

Without formal mathematics, and in terms comprehensible to readers who are not professional astronomers but can make sense of a chemical formula, explains the microscopic processes that underlie the properties and evolutions of structures and environments on an astronomical scale. Clarifies the molecular chemistry of the big bang, interstellar clouds, star formation, the birth of the solar system, stellar winds and outflows, masers near bright stars, supernovae, and several types of active galaxies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"It would make an excellent introduction to molecular astrophysics for a beginning graduate student...any scientist curious about the chemistry of astrophysical objects will find it a useful resource." Stephen Lepp, Nature

" extremely valuable synthesis of our present knowledge of the important chemical processes in space." Marcus Chown, New Scientist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521419833
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 185
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Table of Contents

1 A brief history 1
2 Setting the astronomical scene 8
3 The tools of the trade 15
4 Chemistry after the Big Bang 32
5 Interstellar clouds - the birthplaces of stars 44
6 Star formation 77
7 The Solar System at birth 98
8 Stellar winds and outflows 113
9 Astronomical masers near bright stars 131
10 Supernovae: fairly big bangs 143
11 Molecules in active galaxies 153
12 Epilogue 162
Index 164
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