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Cosmic Catastrophes
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From supernovae and gamma-ray bursts to the accelerating Universe, this is an exploration of the intellectual threads that lead to some of the most exciting ideas in modern astrophysics and cosmology. This fully updated second edition incorporates new material on binary stars, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, worm-holes, quantum gravity and string theory. It covers the origins of stars and their evolution, the mechanisms responsible for supernovae, and their progeny, neutron stars and black holes. It examines the theoretical ideas behind black holes and their manifestation in observational astronomy and presents neutron stars in all their variety known today. This book also covers the physics of the twentieth century, discussing quantum theory and Einstein's gravity, how these two theories collide, and the prospects for their reconciliation in the twenty-first century. This will be essential reading for undergraduate students in astronomy and astrophysics, and an excellent, accessible introduction for a wider audience.


Preface; 1. Setting the stage: star formation and hydrogen burning in single stars; 2. Stellar death: the inexorable grip of gravity; 3. Dancing with stars: binary stellar evolution; 4. Accretion disks: flat stars; 5. White Dwarfs: quantum dots; 6. Supernovae: stellar catastrophes; 7. Supernova 1987A: lessons and enigmas; 8. Neutron stars: atoms with attitude; 9. Black holes in theory: into the abyss; 10. Black holes in fact: exploring the reality; 11. Gamma-ray bursts, black holes and the universe: long, long ago and far, far away; 12. Supernovae and the universe; 13. Worm holes and time machines: tunnels in space and time; 14. Beyond: the frontiers; Index.


"Wheeler's exposition uses elegant word descriptions based on deep physical insight, rather than mathematical expressions, and thus the book is accessible to nontechnical persons.... A sweeping survey, comprehensive and well written." –Choice

2007 Outstanding Academic Title -- Choice Magazine

"...a scholarly yet readable account of violent events in the Universe...The author is one of the world's leading experts in these fields and he writes with immense authority...I have no doubt that it will run to many editions." --Patrick Moore: BBC Sky at Night

"A great deal of information is packed into this small book...all of it explained in Wheeler's extremely lucid fashion...Five or six thumbs up for this one!" --Review from the Online Bookstore of the American Association of Variable Star Observers

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