Written by William Sheehan, a noted historian of astronomy, and Christopher J. Conselice, a professional astronomer specializing in galaxies in the early universe, this book tells the story of how astronomers have pieced together what is known about the vast and complicated systems of stars and dust known as galaxies.
The first galaxies appeared as violently disturbed exotic objects when the Universe was only a few 100 million years old. From that tortured beginning, they have evolved though processes of accretion, merging and star formation into the majestic spirals and massive ellipticals that dominate our local part of the Universe. This of course includes the Milky Way, to which the Sun and Solar System belong; it is our galactic home, and the only galaxy we will ever know from the inside. Sheehan and Conselice show how astronomers' understanding has grown from the early catalogs of Charles Messier and William Herschel; developed through the pioneering efforts of astronomers like E.E. Barnard, V.M. Slipher, Henrietta Leavitt, Edwin Hubble and W.W. Morgan; and finally is reaching fruition in cutting-edge research with state-of-the-art instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope that can see back to nearly the beginning of the Universe. By combining archival research that reveals fascinating details about the personalities, rivalries and insights of the astronomers who created extragalactic astronomy with the latest data gleaned from a host of observa
tions, the authors provide a view of galaxies - and their place in our understanding of the Universe - as they have never been seen before.
William Sheehan is an astronomical historian and author of the biography of Milky Way photographer and pioneering astronomer E.E. Barnard, The Immortal Fire Within (Cambridge University Press, 1995). He is a regular scholar-in-residence at leading observatories, including Yerkes, Lick, Lowell and Mt. Wilson. As both a professional psychiatrist and an astronomer, he has a unique insight into the personalities of the pioneering figures of the history of science. He has published a number of books on the history of solar system studies, especially on the Moon and Mars. Sheehan is a consulting editor of Sky & Telescope, a 2001 fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for his research on the Milky Way, and a recipient of the Gold Medal of the Oriental Astronomical Association. Asteroid no.16037 is named in his honor. Christopher Conselice, an astronomer at the University of Nottingham, is one of the world's leading experts on galaxy formation and evolution. He was educated at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has held post-doctoral positions at the California Institute of Technology and the Space Telescope Science Institute. He was a regular contributor to Mercury, the magazine of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He has published his research in leading professional journals, including Science, Nature and the Astrophysical Journal.
Acknowledgements.- Preface.- Chapter 1: Setting the Scene.- Chapter 2: Catchpole of the Nebulae.- Chapter 3: "I Have Looked Farther."- Chapter 4: Chimneys and Tubules of the Galaxy.- Chapter 5: Of Leviathans, Spirals and Fire-Mists.- Chapter 6: The Various Twine of Light.- Chapter 7: Fields of Glory.- Chapter 8: What Stuff Stars Are Made Of.- Chapter 9: The Nebula is Leaving the Solar System.- Chapter 10: The "Galactocentric" Revolution.- Chapter 12: W.W. Morgan and the Discovery of the Spiral Arms of the Milky Way.- Chapter 13: To Forge a Galaxy.- Chapter 14: Over the Dark Side: Dark Matter, Black Holes and the Origin of the Universe.- Chapter 15: Dark Energy.- Chapter 16: Afterglows.- Index.