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Cosmic Horizons

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Excerpts from Cosmic Horizons: Astronomy at the Cutting Edge.

Cosmic Horizons illuminates the most recent discoveries of modern astrophysics with essays by leading astronomers, including NASA scientists. The book also features profiles of astronomers such as Carl Sagan and Georges Lemaître (father of the Big Bang theory), case studies that cover the controversial evidence for the possibility of life on Mars, and stunning four-color photographs throughout.

Article Case Study: Friedrich Bessel and the Companion of Sirius Discovering Sirius B long before technology allowed us to see it, or quantum mechanics explained the nature of white dwarfs. Article Case Study: Gerard Kuiper and the Trans-Neptunian Comet Belt A dusty snowball orbiting the Sun, trailing gas and dust as it melts: find out how these solar snowballs came to be. Article Case Study: John Michell and Black Holes When a country parson first described black holes in 1783, the concept was so ahead of its time it was mostly ignored. Article Case Study: Fossil Microbes on Mars? A meteorite that escaped from Mars 16 million years ago was found in Antarctica. Is it evidence of life on the red planet? Article Case Study: Neutrino Observatories How do scientists detect neutrinos? Today they're more likely to stare at a screen than peer through a telescope. Article Case Study: The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation See how scientists detected a faint remnant glow that supports the Big Bang theory. Article Profile: Ernst Chladni and Rocks from the Sky The notion that enormous rocks exist within our solar system—and that some fall to Earth—once garnered ridicule. Article Profile: Georges Lemaître, Father of the Big Bang When a Catholic priest and cosmologist first proposed that the universe began as a "primeval atom," it seemed preposterous. Article Profile: Cecilia Payne and the Composition of the Stars What are the stars made of? At 25, Cecilia Payne answered this fundamental question in her Ph.D. thesis. Article Profile: Ole Roemer and the Speed of Light Before Ole Roemer's 1676 discovery, scientists assumed that light could not be measured. Article Profile: Vera Rubin and Dark Matter Vera Rubin proposed that for every visible star in the observable universe, there are nine other invisible masses. Article Profile: Carl Sagan and the Quest for Life in the Universe From television and films to professional journals and best-selling books, Carl Sagan's influence was legendary. Article Profile: Lyman Spitzer and the Space Telescope The idea of launching a telescope into orbit was first suggested in 1923, but the idea wasn't realized until nearly 70 years later. Article Profile: Fritz Zwicky's Extraordinary Vision Fritz Zwicky was the first to conceive of supernovas, dark matter, and gravitational lenses. So why do so few know his name? Article Profile: Harold C. Urey This Nobel Prize–winning scientist contributed to several fields: chemistry, geochemistry, lunar science, and astrochemistry.