Galaxies: A Very Short Introduction [NOOK Book]

Overview

Galaxies are the building blocks of the Universe: standing like islands in space, each is made up of many hundreds of millions of stars in which the chemical elements are made, around which planets form, and where on at least one of those planets intelligent life has emerged.

Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is just one of several hundred million other galaxies that we can now observe through our telescopes. Yet it was only in the 1920s that we...
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Galaxies: A Very Short Introduction

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Overview

Galaxies are the building blocks of the Universe: standing like islands in space, each is made up of many hundreds of millions of stars in which the chemical elements are made, around which planets form, and where on at least one of those planets intelligent life has emerged.

Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is just one of several hundred million other galaxies that we can now observe through our telescopes. Yet it was only in the 1920s that we realised that there is more to the Universe than the Milky Way, and that there were in fact other 'islands' out there. In many ways, modern astronomy began with this discovery, and the story of galaxies is therefore the story of modern astronomy. Since then, many exciting discoveries have been made about our own galaxy and
about those beyond: how a supermassive black hole lurks at the centre of every galaxy, for example, how enormous forces are released when galaxies collide, how distant galaxies provide a window on the early Universe, and what the formation of young galaxies can tell us about the mysteries of Cold Dark
Matter.

In this Very Short Introduction, renowned science writer John Gribbin describes the extraordinary things that astronomers are learning about galaxies, and explains how this can shed light on the origins and structure of the Universe.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191622809
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford
  • Publication date: 3/27/2008
  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 736,195
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

John Gribbin is one of the best-known current popular science writers. His many books include the acclaimed The Universe: A Biography, In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, and Science: A History. He has written for many newspapers and regularly contributes to radio and television documentaries and debates, and also writes science fiction novels. He formerly worked for Nature and New Scientist and is presently a Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex.

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Table of Contents

1 The Great Debate 5

2 Stepping stones to the Universe 16

3 Our island 27

4 Interlude: galactic mediocrity 42

5 The expanding universe 47

6 The material world 66

7 The origin of galaxies 86

8 The fate of galaxies 102

Glossary 113

Further reading 116

Index 117

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A great first introduction to Galaxies

    Of all the astronomical objects that are visible to the human eye, perhaps the most fascinating ones are the galaxies. This is in large measure due to the most familiar elliptical galaxies, of which our own Milky Way is an example. Their twirling, irregular shapes are fascinating to the eye, for more or less the same reasons that the rings of Saturn attract attention. They are an exception to the universe that is filled with perfectly spherical or pointlike objects, with very little of internal structure. And just like Saturn, the fascinating shape of the galaxies has only been revealed with the advent of a telescope, and not until well into the 20th century did we realize that these "island universes" lay far outside out of the Milky Way.

    If you are interested in finding out more about galaxies, what they are, how did we come to know about them, how they develop, and what their ultimate destiny is, then John Gribbin's book is an excellent introduction to the subject. It is accessible to a non-expert, and very little scientific understanding is assumed. It is very readable and interesting, and it will take a reader on a fascinating intellectual journey across the universe. After reading this book, you will be looking at the universe with a whole new set of eyes, and would hopefully appreciate our own place in cosmos.

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