Galaxy: Mapping the Cosmos

James Geach. Univ. of Chicago/Reaktion, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78023-363-5
Astrophysicist Geach goes an order of magnitude further than the usual popular astronomy title—those full of breathtaking images, but little in the way of context—by giving readers the fascinating stories revealed by those images: how galaxies are created, how they evolve, and what they tell us about our universe. The sheer variety is stunning: "grand design" spirals like our Milky Way; barred spirals; irregular and amorphous galaxies with no discernible structure; dynamic interacting and colliding galaxies where new stars form like popcorn; and quasars, ancient, distant galaxies whose central black holes spew copious amounts of x-ray, ultraviolet, and visible radiation. Living in the Milky Way gives us an insider's view of a typical spiral galaxy, with its broad disc of stars surrounding a bulge or hub of older stars cloaking a supermassive black hole. Geach explores the technology behind modern big telescopes—as well as their instrumentation and techniques—that scientists use to study galaxies as they determine what they're made of, how much is unknown dark matter, and how fast they're receding away from us in our expanding universe. Gorgeous color photos, coupled with clear and engaging explanations of the science behind them, make this book a winner on every level. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/13/2014
Release date: 11/01/2014
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