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Galaxies: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

John Gribbin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Galaxies are the building blocks of the Universe: standing like islands in space, each is made up of many hundreds of millions of stars in which the chemical elements are made, around which planets form, and where on at least one of those planets intelligent life has emerged.

Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is just one of several hundred million other galaxies that we can now observe through our telescopes. Yet it was only in the 1920s that we realised that there is more to the Universe than the Milky Way, and that there were in fact other 'islands' out there. In many ways, modern astronomy began with this discovery, and the story of galaxies is therefore the story of modern astronomy. Since then, many exciting discoveries have been made about our own galaxy and
about those beyond: how a supermassive black hole lurks at the centre of every galaxy, for example, how enormous forces are released when galaxies collide, how distant galaxies provide a window on the early Universe, and what the formation of young galaxies can tell us about the mysteries of Cold Dark

In this Very Short Introduction, renowned science writer John Gribbin describes the extraordinary things that astronomers are learning about galaxies, and explains how this can shed light on the origins and structure of the Universe.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Product Description

About the Author

John Gribbin has a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Cambridge and is one of the best-known current popular science writers. His many books include the acclaimed The Universe: A Biography, In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, and Science: A History. He has written for all the UK broadsheet newspapers, regularly contributes to radio and television documentaries and debates, and also writes science fiction novels. He formerly worked for Nature and New Scientist, and is presently a Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 675 KB
  • Print Length: 137 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (27 Mar. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #338,037 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Top Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Universe in a nutshell 12 April 2008
This is much more than a book about galaxies. Within the small space of a Very Short Introduction John Gribbin manages to pack in as great deal about the history of astronomy, cosmology, and the fate of the Universe. Although it is in a (sort of) academic series, it's as readable as his less academic books, and bang up to date. Explains how our Milky Way is just an average galaxy, one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the expanding Universe. Great value!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening 3 May 2010
By Jon Chambers VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's almost impossible not to be overawed by galaxies. As these pages tell us, the largest of them (giant ellipticals) contain more than a trillion stars spread over hundreds of kiloparsecs (1 kpc = 1000 x 3.25 light years). The most distant galaxies detected so far (using Hubble Ultra Deep Field) have shown up in a minute patch of sky that appears blank to other telescopes. Yet this patch, from an area about one thirteen billionth of the sky, contains over 10,000 galaxies, whose light started its journey towards us over 13 billion years ago. (How these proto-galaxies manage to emit light suggesting this immense distance/time when only 800 million years old is one of many questions you will probably ask yourself while reading. Most are answered in this book.) Future astronomers, looking beyond these primitive galaxies and using the next generation of telescopes, expect (and hope) to see ... nothing, for they'll then be looking at the 'dark age' between the Big Bang and the time when galaxies started forming. Such science is truly awe-inspiring.

Modern cosmology began only in the 1920s, when Edwin Hubble made his two major discoveries (that independent galaxies exist outside our Milky Way and that there is a precise relationship between a galaxy's redshift and its distance). But cosmologists have managed to cover a lot of ground (and space) in the succeeding 80 years or so. It is to Gribbin's great credit that he manages to convey the essence of this progress in so succinct and accessible a manner - there aren't any equations in sight to vex the more mathematically challenged. For most general readers, the basic principles of cosmology are challenging enough already.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My head hurts 3 Oct. 2011
Fascinating book, about the history of both galaxies as we know today and how we learnt that the Milky Way is but a very small and unremarkable island in a very large ocean filled with Islands. I can't think of a book that's made my head hurt (in a good way) as much as this one. You get a sense of the scale and size of our universe in very clear terms but it is impossible to fathom how big it truly is. Quite surprised to learn that our galaxy will one day collide with another one, but don't worry we won't be around to see it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Galaxies - Our place in the universe 5 Mar. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
‘Galaxies’ is a natural progression from ‘Stars’ in the VSI series but is much more reader-friendly in that it deals with the subject without recourse to equations and exotic maths. This said, the reader must be prepared for some very large numbers in terms of distances and if nothing else these demonstrate how inconsequential the Earth and the solar system are in the known Universe. Also how ridiculous it is to talk realistically about interstellar travel.
The content covers both factual knowledge and those aspects of galaxies that are speculative or theoretical however all these are described in non-academic terms suitable for the general reader. The format is similar to ‘Stars’ in that it includes sections on the origins, formation, evolution, measurement of and the probable future scenarios for galaxies, plus an interesting account of how mankind has developed techniques and equipment to investigate these stellar bodies. Whilst there are a few concepts that may be difficult to grasp, the book is certainly written in the spirit of Very Short Introductions and worth reading.
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