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Looking for a book on Stellar Evolution


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Having looked at these beautiful diamonds in the sky for a long time, I'm developing a twitch to understand more about them. Is there such a thing as a good modern book on stellar evolution that is understandable by the layman? I'd appreciate any recommendations.

Thanks,

Mark

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Not sure this is exactly what you are looking for, but ‘The Magic Furnace’ by Marcus Chown May be of interest. It basically explores the mechanisms by which all the elements are created, covering the Big Bang and stellar life cycles. I found it very interesting.

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That looks like a good book linking the periodic table and stellar evolution together. The only downside is it's 20 years old and I think we might have moved on a little since then, but I'm sure it will get me thinking. Now on my list, thanks Stu!

 

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"Stars and their Spectra" by James Kaler is the best book I have read on the mechanisms behind stars and their evolution. It contains next to no equations but digs in very deep and is one of the most readable books I have ever picked up. I paid £29 for the hard cover so I've no idea why it is currently £160 on Amazon.  Maybe it's popped out of print for awhile. 

Here's my Amazon review of it.

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As an amateur astrophotogragher looking for additional pursuits related to astronomy I have been toying with the idea of a buying a diffraction grating to attempt some very basic spectroscopy of the stars. Looking into this subject I came across this book by Kaler which appears to be well received and offered at a good price for a substantive hard back.

Once started I could not put this book down and read it word for word over a couple of weeks. It is beautifully descriptive, written in a refreshingly warm style in contrast to so many text books that though detailed mathematically are very cold and feel almost unattached to their subject matter.

After a general introduction Kaler offers a description of how observational astronomy can be used to derive the physical properties of stars and then gives a superb account of the atomic processes that give rise to continuous, emission and absorption spectra and why and when these spectra can appear in combination.

After a description of prismatic and diffraction based hardware the book starts in earnest to explain the spectral sequence, initially giving an extensive account of the history and different systems that have emerged over time and how these have been distilled down to today's system OBAFGKMLT.

The HR diagram and the MK system of luminosity is described in detail and then the book starts in earnest by allocating an individual chapter to each star type starting at M and making its way through 300 odd pages to type O. Each chapter is absolutely engrossing due the authors passionate style of writing.

Beyond type O the author continues in the same vein to describe planetary nebulas, protoplanery systems, white dwarfs, neutron stars and many other exotic types. Nova and supernova are described in detail and the book concludes with 40 pages or so dedicated to the subject of the live cycle of different mass stars which beautifully draws on all the details of the previous chapters to give the best description of the life of a star I have read.

This book has essentially no equations but is clearly written by someone who is profoundly knowledgeable and besotted by the stars.

In summary a wonderfully detailed yet ever so readable book that I highly recommend.

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0521899540/ref=ppx_od_dt_b_asin_title_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

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Thanks John for your recommendation and description of the book, and for Merlin66's seconding. I managed to find some excerpts online and that looks very much what I'm looking for. He has a very engaging style.

I managed to find a second-hand copy of the second edition for £39 inc post from the USA (on Abebooks!), and snapped it up. May take a few weeks to get here in this madness, but that looks like some excellent winter reading.

Thanks a lot chaps, much appreciated.

Mark

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It is a fantastic book Mark. I can't imagine you being disappointed. 

I actually contacted Prof Kaler after having finished a second reading of it which I started almost straight after I first finished it! So much wonderful information and beautifully written. He wrote some very kind replies to me. 

Based on this book I bought this book of his  https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0716750759/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i7 and I can say it's just as astonishing. It maybe getting on a bit but there is nothing in it which has fundamentally changed.

 

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Thanks John. Enthusiasm from an author and his readers about a subject speaks volumes. It was the lifecycle and H/R diagram I was particularly interested in, but I've always admired the spectroscopic side. The ability to determine what elements are contained within a body millions of miles away blows my mind. I'm happy with observational astronomy at this point, but who knows, if I can liberate the time, develop the skills and afford the equipment, I may be lured to the colourful side at some point in the future. Even if I don't, understanding some of this will make astronomy much more interesting.

Not a visit to SGL goes by when I don't learn something new!

Thanks again.

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I would recommend  "observer's guide to stellar evolution" by Mike Inglis.

Published by Springer.

It combines the theory of stellar evolution with actual examples we can observe.

Cheers

Ian

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll just throw in "The life and death of stars" by Kenneth R Lang as it was the course book for a class in stellar evolution for laymen that I took at uni. Thought it was great and had excellent structure and flow. Would highly recommend.

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