From the Inside Flap
Embark on the most astounding of odysseys, a voyage into realms not only stranger than we can imagine but also far, far more beautiful. Universe: A Journey from Earth to the Edge of the Cosmos leads us into a celestial panorama that extends for 130 billion trillion kilometres (80 billion trillion miles) in every direction and allows us to explore nearly 200 of the most extraordinary astronomical views ever uncovered. Complementing these up-to-date and spectacular images are enlightening descriptions of the planets, stars, nebulae, white dwarfs, supernovae, black holes and other exotica that populate our universe.
Setting off from planet Earth and travelling at the speed of light, we cross the 385,000 kilometres (240,000 miles) to the moon in just 1.3 seconds. At this velocity Mercury, Venus, Mars and the Sun are reached in minutes, and we are only hours from the edge of the solar system. But having crossed this rubicon, over four years of travel separate us from our next landmark, the star Proxima Centauri.
As we press deeper into the Milky Way distances are measured in hundreds and even thousands of light years. On this scale, the rhythms of stellar life unfold before our eyes: we pass through dark nebulae afire with newly smelted stars, watch dying stars bloom and fade and skirt the debris clouds of supernovae. Navigating through think swarms of stars, we approach the galactic core, a gravitational court of white dwarfs, neutron stars and hypergiants in the thrall of a supermassive black giant.
Hundreds of thousands of light years must be covered to reach the Milky Ways companion galaxies, the Large and Small Magellenic Clouds, and millions more devoured before we cross true intergalactic space. Out here we watch the hidden lives of galaxies: we see themlocked in gravitational combat, tearing each other apart or swallowing their companions whole.
Now billions of light years from Earth, we can discern the large-scale structure of the universe: massive conglomerations of galaxies gather like grains of dust on a veil of cobwebs, warping space with their tremendous gravity. Having crossed an almost unimaginable 13.4 billion light years, we encounter a wall of radiation. Here our voyage into the cosmos must finally end, for we have reached the very edge of the visible universe: what stands before us is the afterglow of the Big Bang itself.
From the Back Cover
Take a journey into realms both stranger and more beautiful than you ever imagined: Universe embarks on a 13.7-billion-light-year journey from Earth to the edge of the cosmos and the beginning of time. Universe the book: Explore over 200 astonishing planets, stars, nebulae, white dwarfs, supernovae, black holes and galaxies; A wealth of cosmic facts of data; Fully up-to-date with the most dramatic astronomical images every captured; Images from Cassini, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space 1, Galileo, Hubble Space Telescope, Magellan, Mariner, Mars Express, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mercury MESSENGER, NEAR Shoemaker, Spitzer Space Telescope, Stardust, SOHO, TRACE, Venus Express, Viking and Voyagers I and II. Universe the DVD: Travel 13.7 billion light years from Earth to the very edge of the universe; Computer animation brings deep space to life; Bonus extra - A high-resolution gallery of 50 of the best-ever space images for your desktop or screensaver.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Nicolas Cheetham studied at the University of Edinburgh where he read Classics and Byzantine history as well as Artificial Intelligence, before working as an editor specializing in popular science. He is the author of Earth: A New Perspective and lives in London.