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Astrophysics in a Nutshell 2ed

by Dan Maoz Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 312 pages
AU$79.00 NZ$83.48
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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& Academics:
Winner of the American Astronomical Society's Chambliss Award, Astrophysics in a Nutshell has become the text of choice in astrophysics courses for science majors at top universities in North America and beyond. In this expanded and fully updated second edition, the book gets even better, with a new chapter on extrasolar planets; a greatly expanded chapter on the interstellar medium; fully updated facts and figures on all subjects, from the observed properties of white dwarfs to the latest results from precision cosmology; and additional instructive problem sets. Throughout, the text features the same focused, concise style and emphasis on physics intuition that have made the book a favorite of students and teachers.


Written by Dan Maoz, a leading active researcher, and designed for advanced undergraduate science majors, Astrophysics in a Nutshell is a brief but thorough introduction to the observational data and theoretical concepts underlying modern astronomy. Generously illustrated, it covers the essentials of modern astrophysics, emphasizing the common physical principles that govern astronomical phenomena, and the interplay between theory and observation, while also introducing subjects at the forefront of modern research, including black holes, dark matter, dark energy, and gravitational lensing.


In addition to serving as a course textbook, Astrophysics in a Nutshell is an ideal review for a qualifying exam and a handy reference for teachers and researchers.


  • The most concise and current astrophysics textbook for science majors--now expanded and fully updated with the latest research results

  • Contains a broad and well-balanced selection of traditional and current topics

  • Uses simple, short, and clear derivations of physical results

  • Trains students in the essential skills of order-of-magnitude analysis

  • Features a new chapter on extrasolar planets, including discovery techniques

  • Includes new and expanded sections and problems on the physics of shocks, supernova remnants, cosmic-ray acceleration, white dwarf properties, baryon acoustic oscillations, and more

  • Contains instructive problem sets at the end of each chapter

  • Solutions manual (available only to professors)



Preface xii

Constants and Units xvii

Chapter 1: Introduction 1

1.1 Observational Techniques 2

Problems 8


Chapter 2: Stars: Basic Observations 10

2.1 Review of Blackbody Radiation 10

2.2 Measurement of Stellar Parameters 14

2.3 The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram 26

Problems 28


Chapter 3: Stellar Physics 30

3.1 Hydrostatic Equilibrium and the Virial Theorem 31

3.2 Mass Continuity 35

3.3 Radiative Energy Transport 35

3.4 Energy Conservation 40

3.5 The Equations of Stellar Structure 41

3.6 The Equation of State 42

3.7 Opacity 44

3.8 Scaling Relations on the Main Sequence 45

3.9 Nuclear Energy Production 47

3.10 Nuclear Reaction Rates 52

3.11 Solution of the Equations of Stellar Structure 57

3.12 Convection 57

Problems 60


Chapter 4: Stellar Evolution and Stellar Remnants 64

4.1 Stellar Evolution 64

4.2 White Dwarfs 69

4.3 Supernovae and Neutron Stars 82

4.4 Pulsars 89

4.5 Black Holes 96

4.6 Interacting Binaries 99

Problems 109


Chapter 5: Star Formation and the Interstellar Medium 115

5.1 Cloud Collapse and Star Formation 115

5.2 H II Regions 122

5.3 Components of the Interstellar Medium 133

5.4 Shocks, Supernova Remnants, and Cosmic Rays 136

Problems 153


Chapter 6: Extrasolar Planets 157

6.1 Planet Detection Methods 158

6.2 Planetary System Occurrence and Architecture 175

6.3 Planet Formation and Evolution 178

6.4 Habitable Zones and the Search for Life 180

Problems 182


Chapter 7: The Milky Way and Other Galaxies 185

7.1 Structure of the Milky Way 185

7.2 Galaxy Demographics 200

7.3 Active Galactic Nuclei and Quasars 203

7.4 Groups and Clusters of Galaxies 208

Problems 212


Chapter 8: Cosmology: Basic Observations 215

8.1 The Olbers Paradox 215

8.2 Extragalactic Distances 216

8.3 Hubble's Law 223

8.4 Age of the Universe from Cosmic Clocks 225

8.5 Isotropy of the Universe 226

Problems 227


Chapter 9: Big Bang Cosmology 228

9.1 The Friedmann-LemaƮtre-Robertson-Walker Metric 228

9.2 The Friedmann Equations 231

9.3 History and Future of the Universe 234

9.4 A Newtonian Derivation of the Friedmann Equations 240

9.5 Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe 242

Problems 245


Chapter 10: Tests and Probes of Big Bang Cosmology 247

10.1 Cosmological Redshift and Hubble's Law 247

10.2 The Cosmic Microwave Background 251

10.3 Anisotropy of the Microwave Background 255

10.4 Baron Acoustic Oscillations 261

10.5 Nucleosynthesis of the Light Elements 263

10.6 Quasars and Other Distant Sources as Cosmological Probes 266

Problems 269


Appendix 275

Index 239







Praise for the first edition: "The presentation of so much material . . . is done very skillfully, with a judicious balance between mathematical discussion and physical argument. The pedagogic value of the text is greatly enhanced by the problems given at the end of each chapter. Altogether, the book lives well up to the publisher's declared aims."--Leon Mestel, Observatory

Dan Maoz