Astrophysical concepts by M. Harwit

By M. Harwit

Aimed toward senior undergraduates and postgraduates in physics and astronomy, this textbook deals an advent to a number astrophysical topics, emphasizing actual strategies. The version has been revised to incorporate a brand new bankruptcy within which the writer strains the heritage of the universe.

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Matter is inhomogeneously distributed throughout the Uni- 1:12 The Formation of Large-Scale Structures 39 verse. Much of the Universe is empty; but embedded in these empty spaces we find large aggregates of galaxies, intracluster and intercluster gas, and large voids nearly devoid of galaxies. At large distances we observe all of these in varying proportions, as in Fig. 11. A number of different physical processes compete in determining the Fig. 11. A deep sky exposure obtained of the Galaxy Cluster 0024+1654 in Pisces.

What gave rise to these condensations? How did they form? How did the many small galaxies revealed in Fig. 11 evolve into the large, fully formed galaxies that are abundant today, though rare at early epochs? The formation of quasars also needs to be understood. Quasars are the most distant sources readily detected in the Universe. They are extremely luminous and rapidly consume their energy supply. We think they cannot shine for longer than a 1:12 The Formation of Large-Scale Structures 41 few million years at the highest observed luminosities ∼1048 erg s−1 .

We note one other feature shown in Fig. 3. As a star moves off the main sequence it becomes redder and, if anything, more luminous than it was on the main sequence. At lower temperatures, however, an object always emits less radiation per unit area. Correspondingly, the only way that this particular course of evolution can proceed is for the star to grow as it moves off the main sequence. The stars become giants. Their radii increase by factors of 10 to 100. Let us see how such stages evolve. For this purpose the study of globular clusters is most instructive.

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