Book 236: The Origin of Stars by Michael D. Smith

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The Orion Nebula – closest place to the Solar System where massive stars form

The Origin of Stars by Michael D. Smith

Finished reading on November 1st, 2017

Rating: 10/10

How are stars born? What processes lead to the birth of a star? And what conditions are necessary for star formation? Those might be some of the questions that lead you to read Professor Michael D. Smith’s book “The Origin of Stars”, which was first published in 2004 by Imperial College Press.

This book is aimed for any reader, who is interested in how stars form,and although it gets into the equations governing star formation in a lot of detail, that shouldn’t scare off even say a determined high-school student.

I found the book and the topic fascinating, and more so than I first thought it would be. As far as I knew or remembered from astronomy lectures from a few years ago – matter collapses, temperature on the inside rises, thermonuclear reactions start and poof – you’ve got yourself a brand new star! Or that’s at least how I’d have described it. Now I know better.
In “The Origin of Stars” you find out more about the environment in which stars are born, what prompts the formation of stars and what will eventually stop star formation in a molecular cloud. You also find out about the different stages that a protostar goes through in it’s collapse to in the end accrete matter from its surrounding disk to eventually become a star. And what happens to the environment in which it’s located? What kind of objects that have been observed are related to star formation?

There’s a lot of fascinating details from how come newborn stars don’t rotate so fast as to lose their matter because of its envelope achieving escape speed.  And how do different kinds of stars form and what can form if certain conditions aren’t met. The book is packed with information.

Now to get away from my excitement about star formation, I’ll leave you with one last important bit of information, that I’m sure everyone will eventually need in their life. If you happen across Lithium in an objects hot atmosphere, you can be pretty sure that you’ve either happened across a really young star, or a brown dwarf. And if you wait astronomically long enough, you’ll find out which it is – if it loses the Lithium after a while, then it’s a young star, if it keeps its Lithium – brown dwarf! If it keeps its precious stones – it’s Thráin.


Book 228: Welcome To The Universe

pc360_2016-12-21-09-13-52-871Welcome To The Universe: An Astrophysical Tour by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss and J. Richard Gott

Rating: 8/10

Finished reading on December 18th, 2016

“Welcome To The Universe” is an introductory text to astrophysics and cosmology for the undergraduate student who isn’t learning a science major, or for the well educated adult whose interest in astronomy has gotten further from the usual popular science books that steer clear of formulas and equations.

This book is about some of the ideas in astrophysics and cosmology that are necessary for getting a further understanding of the fields without taking a full mathematical astrophysics or cosmology course.

As such I think it really is perfect book for the intended reader – it doesn’t offend the reader by assuming that equations would go just over their heads, but it also doesn’t get too deeply into them to be of much use for an astronomy major.

The book is quite enjoyable, well illustrated and covers some fascinating topics for an introductory astronomy course. I wish everyone would read this book – you don’t get too much technical details, but just the bare essentials. If you want to find out more – find another book,but this will certainly whet your appetite.

The book has been written so, that you can tell who wrote which chapter, but despite having three authors in makes a complete, an fluid book – you might not even notice that there are three authors, except for when their achievements or work is mentioned specifically.

I got this book right at the beginning of a vacation and I hoped to finish reading it in two weeks, one of which I spent travelling. My book is quite a massive hardcover edition, but I was motivated enough to carry it with me for about three weeks. It was worth it – it was great travel reading in the sense that the beginning chapters are quite simple. However a few chapters in I did start to wonder whether there would even be any new for me information in the book. For a while there wasn’t any. Then there were tiny examples of what was to come – by the end of the book there were fascinating chapters that presented information that I hadn’t read before.

It’s a great book. My rating of 8/10 comes from me not being really one of the intended audience and that I got mildly bored at the beginning of the book (boredom went away by about the middle). It really deserves 10/10.