295 pages, colour illustrations
Star formation is the fundamental cosmic process which makes galaxies visible, and regulates the evolution of normal matter in the Universe. New instruments and technologies are now enabling the exploration of fundamental cosmic processes. Scientists are beginning to understand the beauty and complexity of star and planet formation and their role in cosmic evolution. This fascinating book combines the latest astronomical images and data with descriptions of the exciting recent developments in the study of star and planet formation. The authors discuss isolated star birth in dark clouds, the formation of star clusters and nebulae, the 'ecology' of interstellar gas and dust, and the violent starbursts that may produce black holes. They relate these processes to the evolution of galaxies and the origin of life on Earth.
Written using non-technical language, The Birth of Stars and Planets will appeal to readers with an interest in understanding the Universe and our cosmic origins.
"Most of us imagine stars as big or small spheres of incandescent gas, but in the main all very similar to our Sun. Bally and Reipurth dispel that notion in this gripping book. The Birth of Stars and Planets takes the reader on a journey from the very moment interstellar gas, dust and ice starts to fell the vaguest of mutual attraction, right up to the moment stars veil themselves with a retinue of tiny planetary jewels [...] This book is one that can be read from the beginning to end or used as part of a research project for simple reference."
- Astronomy Now
"[...] a book of marvellous clarity that summarises the current state of our knowledge in a fairly detailed but non-technical way that will appeal to all who have an interest in where it all begins [...] illustrated throughout by many of the finest images from modern observatories [...] and they are beautifully reproduced [...] but it doesn't have a coffee-table feel about it – the illustrations are vital for the understanding of the extensive text [...] a well-written, accessible summary of that story so far, with the promise of more wonders to be revealed."
- Journal of the British Astronomical Association
"Besides having an excellent and clear description of how our current theories think stars are being born, this book has the most spectacular set of photographs I've seen collected in one book. !This book is aimed at the casual, non-technical reader. It is 'math free.' But it still manages to convey the tremendous magnitude, majesty, and mysteries of the universe we can see."
- Publisher Review
"[...] written in an informal, chatty, and largely approachable style, and is liberally sprinkled with some of the most beautiful images our subject has to offer. [...] the authors treat each aspect of the subject in careful and correct detail. [...] I wished that some of our undergraduate students would read parts of the book to obtain a qualitative understanding of topics they sometimes do not grasp from our more orthodox, quantitative approach. Consequently I will be recommending it as background reading for our first-year students. [...] the book appears to work on many levels: the quality of the pictures allows it to pose as a coffee-table book (something the authors point out that they do no want it to be!); the approachable style of the text means that the keen amateur will learn something of this subject; and the level of detail and rigorous explanation would also allow it to be used by students embarking on their first course in astronomy to get a good background overview before they become embroiled in the detailed mathematics of the subject. All in all the authors are to be congratulated on producing a very useful addition to the growing library of books on star formation."
- The Observatory
Part I. Stars and Clusters
1. Our Cosmic Backyard
2. Looking up at the night sky
3. The dark clouds of the Milky Way
4. Infant stars
5. Companions in birth: binary stars
6. Outflows from young stars
7. Towards adulthood
8. The social life of stars: stellar groups
9. Chaos in the nest: The brief lives of massive stars
Part II. Planetary Systems
10. Solar systems in the making
11. Messengers from the past
12. Hazards to planet formation
13. Planets around other stars
Part III. The Cosmic Context
14. Cosmic cycles
15. Star formation in galaxies
16. The first stars and galaxies
17. Astrobiology, origins, and SETI
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John Bally is a Professor in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Bo Reipurth is a Professor at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.