An Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics  book cover
1st Edition

An Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics

ISBN 9781439885901
Published April 7, 2015 by CRC Press
366 Pages 186 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Astronomy is the field of science devoted to the study of astronomical objects, such as stars, galaxies, and nebulae. Astronomers have gathered a wealth of knowledge about the universe through hundreds of years of painstaking observations. These observations are interpreted by the use of physical and chemical laws familiar to mankind. These interpretations supply information about the nature of these astronomical objects, allowing for the deduction of their surface and interior conditions. The science associated with these interpretations is called astrophysics.

An Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics offers a comprehensive introduction to astronomy and astrophysics, complete with illustrative examples and illuminating homework problems. Requiring a familiarity with basic physics and mathematics, this undergraduate-level textbook:

  • Addresses key physics concepts relevant to stellar observations, including radiation, electromagnetic spectrum, photometry, continuous and discrete spectrum, and spectral lines
  • Describes instruments used for astronomical observations as well as how the radiation received is characterized and interpreted to determine the properties of stars
  • Examines the structure of stars, the basic equations which explain stars in equilibrium, and the fusion reactions occurring in stellar cores
  • Discusses the evolution of stars, the solar system, the dynamics of galaxies, and the fundamentals of modern cosmology
  • Explores the universe at high redshifts, where it is dominated by objects such as active galaxies

Solutions manual and figure slides available with qualifying course adoption

An Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics teaches students how to interpret the night sky, providing them with a critical understanding of the stars and other heavenly bodies.

Table of Contents



Scales and Dimensions

Night Sky


Earth, Sun, and the Solar System

Retrograde Motion of Planets

Sidereal Time

Astronomical Catalogs and Software


Electromagnetic Waves

Electromagnetic Spectrum


Refractor Telescope

Reflecting Telescope

Observations at Visible Frequencies

Theoretical Limit on Resolution


Mounting of Telescope

Equatorial Mount

Azimuthal Mount


Observations at Other Wavelengths


Coordinate Systems

The Horizontal System

Equatorial Coordinate System

Ecliptic System

Galactic Coordinate System

Supergalactic Coordinate System

Space Velocity and Proper Motion of Stars

Doppler Effect



Coordinate Transformations

Transformation between Equatorial and Ecliptic Coordinate Systems

Precession of Equinoxes

Equatorial Mounting of a Telescope



Flux Density and Intensity

Blackbody Radiation

Energy Density in an Isotropic Radiation Field

Magnitude Scale

Apparent Magnitude

Absolute Magnitude

The Color Index

Bolometric Magnitude

Stellar Temperatures

Effective Temperature

Color Temperature

Appendix: Solid Angle

Gravitation and Kepler's Laws

Two-Body Problem

Application to Solar System

Virial Theorem

Tidal Forces and Roche Limit

Stars, Stellar Spectra, and Classification


Stellar Spectra

Harvard Classification of Stellar Spectra

Saha Equation

Derivation of the Saha Equation

Number of States of a Free Particle in a Box

HR Diagram

Star Clusters and Associations

Distance and Age Determination of Clusters using Color-Magnitude Diagram

Radiation from Astronomical Sources

Continuous Spectra

Synchrotron Radiation


Compton Scattering

Bound-Free Transitions

Absorption and Emission Line Spectrum

Radial Velocity due to Doppler Effect

Causes of Finite Width of Spectral Lines

Molecular Band Spectra


Extinction Coefficient

Color Excess

Stellar Structure

Pressure Gradient

Mass Distribution

Energy Production

Temperature Gradient

Radiative Transport

Convective Transport

Boundary Conditions

Rosseland Mean Opacity

Equation of State

Ideal Gas Law

Stellar Energy Sources

Appendix: Maxwell-Boltzmann Distribution

Stellar Nuclear Reactions

Fundamental Interactions

Fundamental Particles

A Brief Introduction to Neutrinos

PP Chain

Nuclear Reaction Rate

Nuclear Reaction Rate: Derivation

Nuclear Cross-Section

Estimating the Nuclear Reaction Rate

Energy Released in Nuclear Reactions

Standard Solar Model

Star Formation and Stellar Evolution

Early Stage of Star Formation


Evolution on the Main Sequence

Degenerate Free Electron Gas

Evolution beyond the Main Sequence

Population I and II Stars

White Dwarfs

Neutron Star

Black Holes


The Sun

Solar Atmosphere




Dynamo Mechanism for Magnetic Field Enhancement

Sunspots and the Solar Cycle

Some Transient Phenomena

The Solar System

Orbital Properties of Planets

Retrograde Motion of Planets

Albedo and Temperature of Planets

Terrestrial Planets: Interior Structure

Jovian Planets

The Moon

Eclipses and Occultations

Why Did Pluto Lose Its Planetship?

Formation of the Solar System

Binary Stars

Kinematics of a Binary Star System

Classification of Binary Stars

Mass Determination

Mass Transfer in Binary Systems

The Milky Way

The Distance Ladder

Distribution of Matter in the Milky Way

Differential Rotation of the Milky Way

Mapping the Galactic Disk with Radio Waves

Formation of the Spiral Arms


Elliptical Galaxies

Spiral Galaxies

Evidence for Dark Matter

Galaxy Clusters


Euclidean Space

Curved Space

Minkowski Space-Time

Big Bang Cosmology

Cosmological Redshift and Hubble's Law

FRW Line Element

Matter and Radiation

Cosmological Evolution Equations

Accelerating Universe and Dark Energy

The Early Universe

Primordial Nucleosynthesis


Structure Formation

Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR)

Active Galaxies


Active Galactic Nuclei: Some Basic Properties

Size of AGNs


Superluminal Motion

Classification of Active Galaxies

Seyfert Galaxies

Radio Galaxies



Unified Description of AGNs

Appendix: Fundamental Constants and Conversion of Units


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Pankaj Jain obtained his doctoral degree from Syracuse University, New York, USA. He subsequently carried out postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA; West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA; University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA; and University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA. Dr. Jain is currently a professor in the Physics Department at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He is a theoretical physicist, whose chief interests are in high energy physics and cosmology. Presently, he is working on the models of dark energy and dark matter, cosmic microwave background radiation, observational tests of the cosmological principle, fundamental symmetries of nature, ultra-high energy cosmic rays, and strong interactions.


"Jain has produced a concise, calculus-based textbook aimed at majors in their sophomore or junior years. … ideas are laid out in logical order, and key concepts are explained. End-of-chapter assignments include derivations, calculations (with specific equations often recommended), and verifications. … useful as a review for someone already familiar with the material. This title features useful diagrams … . Recommended for upper-division students."
CHOICE, December 2015