About this book
This classic text, aimed at senior undergraduates and beginning graduate students in physics and astronomy, presents a wide range of astrophysical concepts in sufficient depth to give the reader a quantitative understanding of the subject. Emphasizing physical concepts, the book outlines cosmic events but does not portray them in detail: it provides a series of astrophysical sketches. For this fourth edition, nearly every part of the text has been reconsidered and rewritten, new sections have been added to cover recent developments, and others have been extensively revised and brought up to date.
The book begins with an outline of the scope of modern astrophysics and enumerates some of the outstanding problems faced in the field today. The basic physics needed to tackle these questions are developed in the next few chapters using specific astronomical processes as examples. The second half of the book enlarges on these topics and shows how we can obtain quantitative insight into the structure and evolution of stars, the dynamics of cosmic gases, the large-scale behavior of the Universe, and the origins of life.
A major aim of Astrophysical Concepts, 4E is to help the reader gain physical insight. While mathematics provides an essential basis for any quantitative treatment of astrophysics, the book consistently emphasizes the physical meaning of equations and mathematical terms. With this approach, individual astronomical objects (white dwarfs, supernovae, comets, quasars) are mentioned wherever physical processes relevant to them are discussed, rather than in specifically dedicated sections. To balance this approach, an appendix presents a coherent outline of astronomy for students unfamiliar with astronomical terminology, and a comprehensive index provides the means for selectively concentrating on specific phenomena of interest. The extensive bibliography refers interested readers to additional sources that treat individual topics in greater detail.