Nearly 160,000 years ago, a star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a galaxy close to our own Milky Way) erupted in a majestic, violent death. Traveling at the speed of light, the radiation from this explosion reached Earth on February 23, 1987. The brightest supernova seen in four centuries, it was one of the most significant discoveries of twentieth-century astronomy.
The saga of Supernova "1987A" began with a once-in-a-lifetime observation by a lone astronomer in the Andes mountains. Astronomers soon found that the death throes of a far-off sun had yielded a treasure trove of information. This lucid, fascinating account by one of today's leading writers on astronomy details the results these astronomers obtained and the basic conclusions they drew.
The story that Donald Goldsmith tells spans the globe from satellites orbiting high above the Earth as they detect bursts of gamma rays and X rays, to "Neutrino" experts capturing a few of these elusive subatomic particles in water-filled chambers deep underground, to the creation of supernova "models" in supercomputers. Taking us to the scene of this spectacular astronomical event and to the various locations of its aftermath, Goldsmith recalls our historical fascination with supernovae; explains how stars form and then live through nuclear fusion; reveals a star's different kinds of electromagnetic radiation; and demonstrates how exploding stars transform primordial material into complex elements essential to life on Earth.
Readers of Supernova will gain a heightened awareness of the universe and our role in it.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.69(h) x 0.52(d)|
About the Author
About the Author:
Donald Goldsmith is the author of eight books on astronomy, including Nemesis, named the best book of 1986 by the American Institute of Physics. He contributed to the Cosmos series on PBS, and is currently the lead writer for a forthcoming PBS series, The Astronomers.