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Cosmic Clouds: Birth, Death and Recycling in the Galaxy ("Scientific American" Library) Hardcover – 2 Jul 1997

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Star cycles 26 Nov. 2000
By Howard Schneider - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Easy to read overview of astronomical techniques such as measuring distances of distant bodies and interpreting spectral patterns, as well as stars, nebulae, and star and planet formation. The cosmic cycle of interstellar clouds collapsing, the formation of stars, the death of stars with dust and enriched matter going back to interstellar clouds, is described. The Big Bang is theorized to have only created hydrogen, helium and a bit of lithium, with heavier elements produced in stars later. It is thus interesting to note that while older parts of our galaxy contain stars with very low levels of heavy elements, no stars have yet been discovered containing no metals, ie, with only the hydrogen, helium and lithium of the Big Bang.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Superb book 13 Aug. 2008
By Douglas Henderson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cosmic Clouds is more than easy reading--it gives a detailed, technical explanation of basic principles of Astrophysics and discusses modern theories of stellar evolution backed up with details of star formation, the multiple roles played by supernova in the formation of heavier elements, their disperal and shockwave inititation of solar nebula formation. The book ties these ideas to various stages of solar formation visible in the night sky. The role of a galaxy's diffuse magnetic field in slowing runaway solar nebula collapse is mentioned, the first time I've seen this idea presented in a publication. The whole crazy interplay of forces large and small resulting in the creation of stars, interstellar molecules, the gathering of matter into planetesimals, protoplanets and the progression from a dusty disc to a stable system of orbiting planets gives one cause for quiet contemplation.

A superb book that would stand in for a college course in astronomy that gathers a wide range of facts and conjecture together to paint a coherent picture of a magnificent, ongoing natural history.
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