The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology

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The twentieth century witnessed the emergence of the disciplines of astrophysics and cosmology, from subjects which scarcely existed, to two of the most exciting and demanding areas of contemporary scientific inquiry. There has never been a century in which fundamental ideas about the nature of our Universe and its contents have changed so dramatically. This book reviews the historical development of all the key areas of modern astrophysics, linking the strands together to show how advances have led to the extraordinarily rich panorama of modern astrophysics and cosmology, while many of the great discoveries were derived from pioneering observations, the emphasis is upon the development of theoretical concepts and how they came to be accepted. These advances have led astrophysicists and cosmologists to ask some of the deepest questions about the nature of our Universe and to stretch our ability to address them by advanced observation to the very limit. This is a fantastic story, and one that would have defied the imaginations of even the greatest story-tellers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book is written in a clear, concise manner at a level suitable for undergraduates...With its exhaustive bibliography and careful indexing, this excellent book is destined to be come an important and familiar resource." — Choice

"...Malcolm Longair has written a very timely book, directed toward students, researchers, and lecturers; I enjoyed experiencing all three roles while reading it. It is a lucid and in-depth presentation of the subject and introduces topics at various levels of complexity.... Longair's style very effectively engages the reader in the story of this wonderful adventure of the human mind."
Riccardo Giacconi, Physics Today

2007 Outstanding Academic Title — Choice Magazine

"...a sweeping overview of our progress in understanding the univesre, made during the 20th century...I found this book to be an excellent overview." —Review from the Online Bookstore of the American Association of Variable Star Observers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521474368
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/31/2006
  • Pages: 565
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Malcolm Longair is Emeritus Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy and Director of Development at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He has held many highly distinguished positions within physics and astronomy and has served on and chaired many international committees, boards and panels, working with both NASA and the European Space Agency. He has received much recognition for his work, including the Pilkington Prize of the University of Cambridge for Excellence in Teaching and a CBE in the millennium honours list for his services to astronomy and cosmology. His previous well-received books for Cambridge University Press include Theoretical Concepts in Physics (2003), The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology (2005) and High Energy Astrophysics (2011).

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Table of Contents

1 The legacy of the nineteenth century 3
2 The classification of stellar spectra 18
3 Stellar structure and evolution 30
4 The end points of stellar evolution 61
5 The galaxy and the nature of the spiral nebulae 77
6 The origins of astrophysical cosmology 100
7 The opening up of the electromagnetic spectrum and the new astronomies 125
8 Stars and stellar evolution 175
9 The physics of the interstellar medium 216
10 The physics of galaxies and clusters of galaxies 244
11 High-energy astrophysics 269
12 Astrophysical cosmology 319
13 The determination of cosmological parameters 340
14 The evolution of galaxies and active galaxies with cosmic epoch 365
15 The origin of galaxies and the large-scale structure of the universe 392
16 The very early universe 439
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