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Chemically Controlled Cosmos: Astronomical Molecules from the Big Bang to Exploding Stars

By: TW Hartquist(Author), DA Williams(Author), Richard Williams(Illustrator)

169 pages, b/w illustrations, tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Mar 2008 | #174847 | ISBN-13: 9780521056373
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £27.99 $37/€32 approx
Hardback | Dec 1995 | #53895 | ISBN: 0521419832
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £92.99 $122/€106 approx

About this book

Molecules in the early Universe acted as natural temperature regulators, keeping the primordial gas cool and, in turn, allowing galaxies and stars to be born. Even now, such similarly simple chemistry continues to control a wide variety of the exotic objects that populate our cosmos. What are the tools of the trade for the cosmic chemist? What can they teach us about the Universe we live in?

These are the questions answered in this engaging and informative guide, The Chemically Controlled Cosmos. In clear, non-technical terms, and without formal mathematics, we learn how to study and understand the behaviour of molecules in a host of astronomical situations. We study the secretive formation of stars deep within interstellar clouds, the origin of our own Solar System, the cataclysmic deaths of many massive stars that explode as supernovae, and the hearts of active galactic nuclei, the most powerful objects in the Universe. We are given an accessible introduction to a wealth of astrophysics, and an understanding of how cosmic chemistry facilitates the investigation of many of the most exciting questions concerning astronomy today.

Paperback re-issue, originally published in 1995.

"There is no doubt that in The Chemically Controlled Cosmos Hartquist and Williams have produced an extremely valuable synthesis of our present knowledge of the important chemical processes in space."
New Scientist

"In this excellent and remarkable book, compressing a dozen learned textbooks into 160 ebullient pages, Hartquist and Williams endeavour to tell how the chemistry and physics of space are intimately entwined, one dictating the other. To achieve this, some fundamental chemistry and physics is outlined in chapters one to three, without using any mathematics. Readers who are unversed in physical science may fail to understand a great deal of this, but persevere, for you may still acquire insight into the way in which chemistry controls the cosmos."
Chemistry in Britain

"How molecules form and emit radiation is a subject that has long been neglected in the popular literature on astronomy. Hartquist and Williams have rectified the situation [...] astrochemistry, controlling and revealing the cosmos, is now available to a wide audience."
– Stephen Lepp, Nature

"[...] a welcome addition to the bookshelves [...] You will need patience and concentration because there is so much detail packed into its 160 pages. But if you really want to understand what is out there and why, it's worth it."
Astronomy Now

"[...] a clear nonmathematical description of how the chemisty of simple molecules acts to regulate a number of important astro-environmental variables [...] if astrochemistry has been the Cinderella of astronomy in recent years, this book is the ticket to the ball."
– Nick Petford, THES

"[...] students of chemistry and cosmochemistry might enjoy this pleasantly produced, introductory book."
Irish Astronomical Journal

"The text is singularly easy to read, and ample use is made of helpful analogies that facilitate the understanding of difficult concepts [...] This is an excellent book [...]"
– David Flower, Webb Society Reviews



1. A brief history
2. Setting the astronomical scene
3. The tools of the trade
4. Chemistry after the Big Bang
5. Interstellar clouds - the birth places of stars
6. Star formation
7. The solar system at birth
8. Stellar winds and outflows
9. Astronomical masers near bright stars
10. Supernovae: fairly big bang
11. Active galaxies
12. Epilogue


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