"We invite you to come along on a series of voyages to explore the universe as astronomers understand it today. Beyond Earth are vast and magnificent realms full of objects that have no counterpart on our home planet. Nevertheless, we hope to show you that the evolution of the universe has been directly responsible for your presence on Earth today"

--Astronomy, an OpenStax resource

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Table of Contents

Note: The textbook has 1200 pages of text and colorful images. The first time you access this book, the downloading time might seem excessively long -- depending upon the speed of your Internet connection. Once the file is cached in your browser, however, loading times for individual assignments are much shorter.

1 Science and the Universe: A Brief Tour

1.1 The Nature of Astronomy

1.2 The Nature of Science

1.3 The Laws of Nature

1.4 Numbers in Astronomy

1.5 Consequences of Light Travel Time

1.6 A Tour of the Universe

1.7 The Universe on the Large Scale

1.8 The Universe of the Very Small

1.9 A Conclusion and a Beginning

2 Observing the Sky: The Birth of Astronomy

2.1 The Sky Above

2.2 Ancient Astronomy

2.3 Astrology and Astronomy

2.4 The Birth of Modern Astronomy

3 Orbits and Gravity

3.1 The Laws of Planetary Motion

3.2 Newton’s Great Synthesis

3.3 Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation

3.4 Orbits in the Solar System

3.5 Motions of Satellites and Spacecraft

3.6 Gravity with More Than Two Bodies

4 Earth, Moon, and Sky

4.1 Earth and Sky

4.2 The Seasons

4.3 Keeping Time

4.4 The Calendar

4.5 Phases and Motions of the Moon

4.6 Ocean Tides and the Moon

4.7 Eclipses of the Sun and Moon

5 Radiation and Spectra

5.1 The Behavior of Light

5.2 The Electromagnetic Spectrum

5.3 Spectroscopy in Astronomy

5.4 The Structure of the Atom

5.5 Formation of Spectral Lines

5.6 The Doppler Effect

6 Astronomical Instruments

6.1 Telescopes

6.2 Telescopes Today

6.3 Visible-Light Detectors and Instruments

6.4 Radio Telescopes

6.5 Observations outside Earth’s Atmosphere

6.6 The Future of Large Telescopes

7 Other Worlds: An Introduction to the Solar System

7.1 Overview of Our Planetary System

7.2 Composition and Structure of Planets

7.3 Dating Planetary Surfaces

7.4 Origin of the Solar System

8 Earth as a Planet

8.1 The Global Perspective

8.2 Earth’s Crust

8.3 Earth’s Atmosphere

8.4 Life, Chemical Evolution, and Climate Change

8.5 Cosmic Influences on the Evolution of Earth

9 Cratered Worlds

9.1 General Properties of the Moon

9.2 The Lunar Surface

9.2 The Lunar Surface

9.4 The Origin of the Moon

9.5 Mercury

10 Earthlike Planets: Venus and Mars

10.1 The Nearest Planets: An Overview

10.2 The Geology of Venus

10.3 The Massive Atmosphere of Venus

10.4 The Geology of Mars

10.5 Water and Life on Mars

10.6 Divergent Planetary Evolution

11 The Giant Planets

11.1 Exploring the Outer Planets

11.2 The Giant Planets

11.3 Atmospheres of the Giant Planets

12 Rings, Moons, and Pluto

12.1 Ring and Moon Systems Introduced

12.2 The Galilean Moons of Jupiter

12.3 Titan and Triton

12.4 Pluto and Charon

12.5 Planetary Rings

13 Comets and Asteroids: Debris of the Solar System

13.1 Asteroids

13.2 Asteroids and Planetary Defense

13.3 The “Long-Haired” Comets

13.4 The Origin and Fate of Comets and Related Objects

14 Cosmic Samples and the Origin of the Solar System

14.1 Meteors

14.2 Meteorites: Stones from Heaven

14.3 Formation of the Solar System

14.4 Comparison with Other Planetary Systems

14.5 Planetary Evolution

15 The Sun: A Garden-Variety Star

15.1 The Structure and Composition of the Sun

15.2 The Solar Cycle

15.3 Solar Activity above the Photosphere

15.4 Space Weather

16 The Sun: A Nuclear Powerhouse

16.1 Sources of Sunshine: Thermal and Gravitational Energy

16.2 Mass, Energy, and the Theory of Relativity

16.3 The Solar Interior: Theory

16.4 The Solar Interior: Observations

17 Analyzing Starlight

17.1 The Brightness of Stars

17.2 Colors of Stars

17.3 The Spectra of Stars (and Brown Dwarfs)

17.4 Using Spectra to Measure Stellar Radius, Composition, and Motion

18 The Stars: A Celestial Census

18.1 A Stellar Census

18.2 Measuring Stellar Masses

18.3 Diameters of Stars

18.4 The H–R Diagram

19 Celestial Distances

19.1 Fundamental Units of Distance

19.2 Surveying the Stars

19.3 Variable Stars: One Key to Cosmic Distances

19.4 The H–R Diagram and Cosmic Distances

20 Between the Stars: Gas and Dust in Space

20.1 The Interstellar Medium

20.2 Interstellar Gas

20.3 Cosmic Dust

20.4 Cosmic Rays

20.5 The Life Cycle of Cosmic Material

20.6 Interstellar Matter around the Sun

21 The Birth of Stars and the Discovery of Planets outside the Solar System

21.1 Star Formation

21.2 The H–R Diagram and the Study of Stellar Evolution

21.3 Evidence That Planets Form around Other Stars

21.4 Planets beyond the Solar System: Search and Discovery

21.5 Exoplanets Everywhere: What We Are Learning

21.6 New Perspectives on Planet Formation

22 Stars from Adolescence to Old Age

22.1 Evolution from the Main Sequence to Red Giants

22.2 Star Clusters

22.3 Checking Out the Theory

22.4 Further Evolution of Stars

22.5 The Evolution of More Massive Stars

23 The Death of Stars

23.1 The Death of Low-Mass Stars

23.2 Evolution of Massive Stars: An Explosive Finish

23.3 Supernova Observations

23.4 Pulsars and the Discovery of Neutron Stars

23.5 The Evolution of Binary Star Systems

23.6 The Mystery of the Gamma-Ray Bursts

24 Black Holes and Curved Spacetime

24.1 Introducing General Relativity

24.2 Spacetime and Gravity

24.3 Tests of General Relativity

24.4 Time in General Relativity

24.5 Black Holes

24.6 Evidence for Black Holes

24.7 Gravitational Wave Astronomy

25 The Milky Way Galaxy

25.1 The Architecture of the Galaxy

25.2 Spiral Structure

25.3 The Mass of the Galaxy

25.4 The Center of the Galaxy

25.5 Stellar Populations in the Galaxy

25.6 The Formation of the Galaxy

26 Galaxies

26.1 The Discovery of Galaxies

26.2 Types of Galaxies

26.3 Properties of Galaxies

26.4 The Extragalactic Distance Scale

26.5 The Expanding Universe

27 Active Galaxies, Quasars, and Supermassive Black Holes

27.1 Quasars

27.2 Supermassive Black Holes: What Quasars Really Are

27.3 Quasars as Probes of Evolution in the Universe

28 The Evolution and Distribution of Galaxies

28.1 Observations of Distant Galaxies

28.2 Galaxy Mergers and Active Galactic Nuclei

28.3 The Distribution of Galaxies in Space

28.4 The Challenge of Dark Matter

28.5 The Formation and Evolution of Galaxies and Structure in the Universe

29 The Big Bang

29.1 The Age of the Universe

29.2 A Model of the Universe

29.3 The Beginning of the Universe

29.4 The Cosmic Microwave Background

29.5 What Is the Universe Really Made Of?

29.6 The Inflationary Universe

29.7 The Anthropic Principle

30 Life in the Universe

30.1 The Cosmic Context for Life

30.2 Astrobiology

30.3 Searching for Life beyond Earth

30.4 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015