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Cosmic Catastrophes: Supernovae, Gamma-Ray Bursts and Adventures in Hyperspace / Edition 1

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Overview

In this tour de force, renowned astrophysicist and author J. Craig wheeler takes us on a breathtaking journey to supernovae, black holes, gamma-ray bursts and adventures in hyperspace. This is an enthusiastic exploration of ideas at the cutting edge of current astrophysics. Wheeler follows the tortuous life of a star from birth to evolution and death, and goes on to consider the complete collapse of a star into a black hole, worm-hole time machines, the possible birth of baby bubble universes, and the prospect of a revolutionary view of space and time in a ten-dimensional string theory. Along the way he offers evidence that suggests the Universe is accelerating and describes recent developments in understanding gamma-ray bursts—perhaps the most catastrophic cosmic events of all. With the use of lucid analogies, simple language and crystal-clear cartoons, Cosmic Catastrophes makes accessible some of the most exciting ideas in the Universe.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Supernovae occur when a star blows up: in its death throes, a star gone supernova "becomes as bright as an entire galaxy." University of Texas astrophysicist Wheeler is one of the world's experts on such stellar explosions and the forces behind them. This accessible, painstaking work of astronomical exposition brings to a general readership Wheeler's knowledge of stars, supernovae and their cousins. The first chapter covers the life cycles of "ordinary" single stars, which coalesce, burn, turn yellow, then red, then dark. Wheeler then gets to the weird stuff--to binary stars, which orbit each other in pairs, and to white dwarves, accretion disks, pulsars and the density of the universe. From models of supernovae, the volume proceeds to specific observed explosions, especially to SN 1987A, which emerged from the Large Magellanic Cloud in February of that year and brought with it experimental confirmation of all sorts of theories. The most famous end-stage product of a star's demise is the black hole, a locus of gravity so dense nothing that goes in can ever come out. Wheeler moves from black holes into space-time and gee-whiz cosmology and to supernova-related theories about the universe's expansion; these issues have been set forth in a glut of popular books, and though Wheeler's exegeses are useful and clear, it's the star-level science here that really shines. This book evolved from a longstanding and popular course taught by Wheeler: its careful explication and organization, designed to attract readers with no knowledge of physics, are welcome by-products of its collegiate origin. 33 halftones and 15 line drawings. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Having taught the popular course Astronomy Bizarre at the University of Texas for 25 years, Wheeler has turned it into a popular book. Wheeler tells the story of the creation of the universe from the Big Bang onward, not from the solar system outward—the traditional way of explaining astronomy to a lay audience. In fact, you'll find no solar system at all in this book: no planets, moons, comets, or asteroids. The sun only makes an appearance because it's a star. Wheeler concentrates on stars: how they are born, why they shine, the paths they follow as they mature, age, and die. It turns out that few stars age quietly. Mostly, they blow up. Some end with a single spectacular explosion releasing the light of a billion stars—a supernova. Others blow up more modestly but repeatedly, each blast labeled with its astronomic pyrotechnic title: nova, flare, burst, pulsar, repeater. The author reveals that a dying star leaves behind another star, smaller and more bizarre. Some end as a tiny, massive white dwarf, others as a tinier, more massive neutron star, the most bizarre of all shrink to a black hole, so massive even light cannot escape and so tiny no one knows if it occupies any space at all. Stellar astronomy is weird and rapidly getting more so as data pour in from satellite observatories and new high-tech instruments on the ground. Wheeler explains it all for the intelligent reader without a technical background. Although lucid and generously illustrated, this should not be anyone's first book on the universe. Wheeler's descriptions are accessible, but the sheer volume of new, strange information will overwhelm anyone coming to astronomy for the first time. Getyour feet wetwith a simpler introduction such as Steven Hawking's A Brief History of Time or Timothy Ferris's Coming of Age in the Milky Way. Then read this.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521651950
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2000
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Setting the stage: star formation and hydrogen burning in single stars; 2. Stellar death; 3. Dancing with stars: binary stellar evolution; 4. Accretion disks: flat stars; 5. White dwarfs: quantum dots; 6. Supernovae: stellar catastrophes; 7. Supernova 1987a: lessons and enigmas; 8. Neutron stars - atoms with attitude; 9. Black holes in theory: into the abyss; 10. Black holes in fact; 11. Supernovae and the universe; 12. Black holes, worm holes and beyond.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 1, 2012

    Recommended for Astronomy beginners

    The author using simple language and clear illustrations,explains the most exciting events like supernovae,gamma-ray bursts,black holes and current ideas in the Universe.The book reaches back to the origin of stars and how they evolve,treats the mechanism of supernovae and then moves forward to neutron stars and black holes.This book is deeply satisfying and J.Craig Wheeler keeps the readers thoroughly entertained.

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