Harvard University Press
July 31, 2003
For the past twelve billion years, galaxies have emblazoned the Universe, bringing form to the firmament, light to the void. These gigantic realms, each one containing millions to trillions of stars, delineate an expanding cosmos of wondrous complexity and activity. Using ground-based and spaceborne telescopes, astronomers have made tremendous progress in understanding galaxies – what they are made of, how they formed, and how they have evolved. This book acquaints readers with the nature of galaxies and of their lives over cosmic time, from their emergence shortly after the Hot Big Bang to their ongoing gyrations and transmutations.
Orienting us with an insider’s tour of our cosmic home, the Milky Way, William Waller and Paul Hodge then take us on a spectacular journey, inviting us to probe the exquisite structures and motions of giant spiral and elliptical galaxies, to witness the transformative dramas of colliding and erupting galaxies, and to pay our respects to the most powerful galaxies of all – the quasars. Along the way, the authors elucidate the accumulating evidence for dark matter in and among galaxies and for dark energy as a critical arbiter of the expanding Universe. They then guide us farther out in space and back in time to the cosmic frontier, where incipient galaxies, the mysterious microwave background radiation, and the cosmic expansion itself manifest a primeval Universe that was radically different from what we know today. Featuring the latest observations and most compelling theories, this book provides a firm foundation for exploring the more speculative reaches of our current understanding.
William H. Waller is Research Associate Professor of Astronomy at Tufts University and cofounder of NASA’s New England Space Science Initiative in Education.
Paul W. Hodge is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at the University of Washington and editor-in-chief of the Astronomical Journal.