How Did the First Stars and Galaxies Form?

By Abraham Loeb | Go to book overview

2
STANDARD COSMOLOGICAL
MODEL

2.1 Cosmic Perspective

In 1915 Einstein came up with the general theory of relativity. He was inspired by the fact that all objects follow the same trajectories under the influence of gravity (the socalled equivalence principle, which by now has been tested to better than one part in a trillion), and realized that this would be a natural result if space-time is curved under the influence of matter. He wrote down an equation describing how the distribution of matter (on one side of his equation) determines the curvature of space-time (on the other side of his equation). He then applied his equation to describe the global dynamics of the Universe.

Back in 1915 there were no computers available, and Einstein’s equations for the Universe were particularly difficult to solve in the most general case. It was therefore necessary for Einstein to alleviate this difficulty by considering the simplest possible Universe, one that is

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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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