How Did the First Stars and Galaxies Form?

By Abraham Loeb | Go to book overview

4
THE FIRST STARS AND BLACK
HOLES

There are two branches of theoretical research in cosmology. One considers the global properties of the Universe and the physical principles that govern it. As more data come in, our knowledge of the initial conditions as well as the underlying cosmological parameters gets refined with higher and higher precision. The second branch focuses on the formation of observable (luminous) objects out of the cosmic gas, including the stars and black holes in galaxies. Here, as more data come in, the models get more complex and the modelers understand more clearly why their previous analysis oversimplified the underlying processes. Theorists who work in the first branch run the risk of needing to switch fields in the future once the precision of the data becomes so good that there will be no point in further refinements (as happened in particle physics after its standard model was established in the 1970s). Theorists in the second branch run the risk of spending their career on a problem that will never get elegantly resolved.

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How Did the First Stars and Galaxies Form?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Prologue- The Big Picture 1
  • 2 - Standard Cosmological Model 8
  • 3 - The First Gas Clouds 35
  • 4 - The First Stars and Black Holes 64
  • 5 - The Reionization of Cosmic Hydrogen by the First Galaxies 95
  • 6 - Observing the First Galaxies 116
  • 7 - Imaging the Diffuse Fog of Cosmic Hydrogen 136
  • 8 - Epilogue- - Fromour Galaxy’s Past to Its Future 159
  • Appendix - Useful Numbers 171
  • Notes 173
  • Recommended Further Reading 181
  • Glossary 183
  • Index 189
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