About this book
My principal aim in writing this book was to present a wide range of astrophysical topics in sufficient depth to give the reader a general quantitative understanding of the subject. The book outlines cosmic events but does not portray them in detail-it provides aseries of astrophysical sketches. I think this approach befits the present uncertainties and changing views in astrophysics. The material is based on notes I prepared for a course aimed at seniors and beginning graduate students in physics and astronomy at Cornell. This course defined the level at which the book is written. For readers who are versed in physics but are unfamiliar with astronomical terminology, Appendix A is included. It gives a brief background of astronomical concepts and should be read before starting the main text. The first few chapters outline the scope of modern astrophysics and deal with elementary problems concerning the size and mass of cosmic objects. However, it soon becomes apparent that a broad foundation in physics is needed to proceed. This base is developed in Chapters 4 to 7 by using, as ex am pIes, specific astronomi cal situations. Chapters 8 to 10 enlarge on the topics first outlined in Chapter I and show how we can obtain quantitative insights into the structure and evolution of stars, the dynamics of co~mic gases, and the large-scale behavior of the universe.
astronomy astrophysics universe