Our book should also serve as a reference for professional researchers. This latter group will observe that we have not simply compiled all of the currently popular models in each topic. We have instead selected interpretations that fit best into the broad story of star formation, as we understand it. Some aspects of this story will undoubtedly change in the coming years. We nevertheless feel that anyone trying to master the subject is best served by a unified, coherent presentation. Whoever wishes to follow more closely the underlying debates or to acquire historical perspective on any topic will want to consult key research and review articles, many of which are cited as Suggested Reading at the end of each chapter.
As preparation, the prospective reader should have a solid background in physics at the undergraduate level. We do not assume similar training in astronomy. Many basic astronomy results, as well as much of its terminology, are presented within the text. Indeed, the study of star formation itself provides a good introduction to astrophysical concepts, simply because of the great variety of topics embraced by the field. In this context, the student should be comfortable with both theoretical arguments and observational results. Note that we have not shied away from describing observations for which no adequate model exists. To our minds, these results are among the most interesting, as they represent areas where fundamental progress can be made.
Over the years, we have received generous help and advice from many individuals. It is a pleasure to acknowledge them. We are indebted to Amanda McCoy for her tireless effort in producing hundreds of figures. Kevin Bundy read the entire manuscript and offered invaluable commentary on both the scientific content and the manner of its presentation. Eric Feigelson used a preliminary version of the book in a one-semester course; we are grateful to Eric and his students at Penn State for their comments and corrections. Others who reviewed selected chapters include Gibor Basri, Peter Bodenheimer, Jan Brand, Charles Curry, Daniele Galli, Dave Hollenbach, Richard Larson, Gary Melnick, Karl Menten, Mario Pérez, Steve Shore, and Hans Zinnecker. We have also benefited from discussions with Philippe André, Leo Blitz, Paola Caselli, Riccardo Cesaroni, Tom Dame, George Herbig, Ray Jayawardhana, Chung-Pei Ma, Thierry Montmerle, Antonella Natta, Sean Matt, Maria Sofia Randich, Leonardo Testi, Ed Thommes, Malcolm Walmsley, and Andrew Youdin.
Star Formation in Our Galaxy
The Formation of Stars
Steven W. Stahler and Francesco Palla © 2004 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co.
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