Books  Physical Sciences  Cosmology & Astronomy 

The Life and Death of Stars

Popular Science
  • Explains how stars are born, how they evolve and their ultimate fates, for a broad general audience
  • Written in a clear and accessible style, explaining concepts without the use of mathematics or jargon
  • Nearly 150 color and black and white illustrations present various solar phenomena - star birth, planet formation, and more - in vivid detail

By: Kenneth R Lang(Author)

356 pages, 24 plates with 32 colour photos and illustrations; 155 b/w photos and illustrations, 42 tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | May 2013 | #201471 | ISBN-13: 9781107016385
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £30.99 $40/€35 approx

About this book

In this well-illustrated text, Kenneth R. Lang explains the life cycle of stars, from the dense molecular clouds that are stellar nurseries to the enigmatic nebulae some stars leave behind in their violent ends. Free of mathematical equations and technical jargon, Lang's lively and accessible text provides physical insights into how stars such as our Sun are born, what fuels them and keeps them bright, how they evolve and the processes by which they eventually die. The Life and Death of Stars demonstrates the sheer scope and variety of stellar phenomena in the context of the universe as a whole. Boxed focus elements enhance and amplify the discussion for readers looking for more depth. Featuring more than 150 figures, including color plates, The Life and Death of Stars is a modern and up-to-date account of stars written for a broad audience, from armchair astronomers and popular science readers to students and teachers of science.

"Of interest to readers of all ages, The Life and Death of Stars should be your 'go to' popular science text for facts about the Sun, the solar system, the stars, and the Universe [...] contains stunning color photos taken by satellites and Earth-based observatories of supernova, nebula, clusters, and colliding galaxies [...] also artfully balances descriptive explanations with fundamental relationships [...] thorough, detailed, and fascinating."
- Robert Schaefer, New York Journal of Books

"My own understanding of the behaviour and lifecycle of stars has grown enormously from reading this book, and yours will too [...] Lang delivers with this book. After reading it, I'll definitely be checking out his other books [...] [it] broadened and deepened my understanding of all things stellar. It's a fantastic book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to [...] readers who wish to expand their knowledge of astrophysics."
- Evan Gough, Universe Today

"[...] an excellent primer [...] for someone looking to get a better understanding of how stars work [...] I can recommend this book."
- Astronomy Now

"It's hard to imagine a better non-mathematical treatment of the subject for amateur astronomers wanting to take their understanding to the next level."
- BBC Sky at Night

"This book is a perfect read for students and scientists alike. It packs the entire field of stellar and extragalactic astrophysics in an easy-to-read text full of analogies to everyday life and hard-to-find historical anecdotes and scientific discoveries. Although the general public interested in astronomy will enjoy this book, the nuances of the accomplishments of the scientists that developed this field can be fully appreciated only by those who have already taken an astronomy course. Peppered throughout the work are quotes by poets (e.g. Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda), unique tables, and a vast array of clear figures and pictures accompanied by detailed captions and no equations. The amount and quality of the information presented makes the volume a hybrid between a textbook and a popular science book. Highly recommended."
- M. Takamiya, Choice

"Lang could have titled his book, 'Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Lives of Stars': it is well written, thorough and detailed, but not dense – a fine addition to a personal library – or any library."
- SkyNews


List of focus elements
List of tables

1. Light of the Sun
2. Gravity and motion
3. Atomic and sub-atomic particles
4. Transmutation of the elements
5. What makes the Sun shine?
6. The extended solar atmosphere
7. Comparisons of the Sun with other stars
8. The lives of stars
9. The material between stars
10. New stars arise from the darkness
11. Stellar end states
12. A larger, expanding universe
13. Birth, life, and death of the universe

Quotation references
Author index
Subject index

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Kenneth R. Lang is Professor of Astronomy at Tufts University. He is the author of many popular astronomy books, including The Cambridge Guide to the Solar System, 2nd edition (2011), Sun, Earth, and Sky, 2nd edition (2006) and Wanderers in Space (1994). An expert in radio astronomy and astrophysics, his research examines how magnetic energy generates explosions on the Sun.

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