Extreme Cosmos: A Guided Tour of the Fastest, Brightest, Hottest, Heaviest, Oldest, and Most Amazing Aspects of Our Universe

Bryan Gaensler, Author
Bryan Gaensler. Perigee, $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-399-53751-6
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Over the past decade, astronomers announced that there are likely 300 sextillion stars in the observable universe. As internationally recognized astronomer Gaensler cannily observes in this stimulating and brisk tour of the universe, astronomy can aid us in gazing with new appreciation for the universe’s power and beauty. He conducts a guided tour of the extremes of a wide range of phenomena, such as temperature, light, sound, electricity/magnetism, and density. For example, the surface temperature of our Sun is about 9,900 degrees Fahrenheit, but the surface temperature of a star at the center of the Red Spider Nebula is more than 50 times hotter than the Sun. Scientists have discovered that the Boomerang Nebula is the coldest object in the universe at -458 degrees Fahrenheit. Gaensler points out that the exoplanet WASP-12b (named for the star it orbits) is such a speedy object that it travels at the breakneck speed of 528,000 miles per hour, compared with Earth’s 66,000 mph. Gaensler’s entertaining introduction to the pleasures of astronomy establishes that we have managed, through diligent use of astronomy and its tools, to discover how stars are born, live, and die, and how entire galaxies have developed and fit together. (July)
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