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Astrochemistry: From Astronomy to Astrobiology

ISBN: 978-0-470-09137-1
352 pages
July 2006
Astrochemistry: From Astronomy to Astrobiology (0470091371) cover image


The dynamic field of astrochemistry brings together ideas of physics, astrophysics, biology and chemistry to the study of molecules between stars, around stars and on planets. Astrochemistry: from Astronomy to Astrobiology provides a clear and concise introduction to this rapidly evolving multidisciplinary subject. Starting with the Molecular Universe, the text covers the formation of the elements, simple models of stars and their classification. It then moves on to draw on the theme of the Origins of Life to study interstellar chemistry, meteorite and comet chemistry as well as the chemistry of planets. Prebiotic chemistry and astrobiology are explored by examining the extremes of the biosphere on Earth, seeing how this may be applied to life in other solar systems.

Astrochemsitry assumes a basic familiarity with principles of physical and organic chemistry but no prior knowledge of biology or astrophysics. This innovative text incorporates results from the latest research and ground and space missions, with key images enhanced by a colour plate section.

  • includes latest research and results from ground and space missions
  • colour plate section
  • summary of concepts and calculations at the end of each chapter
  • accompanying website www.wiley.co/go/shawastrochemistry
This book will be an ideal text for an undergraduate course in Astrochemistry and an essential tool for postgraduates entering the field.
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Table of Contents


1. The molecular universe.

1.1 The Standard Model Big Bang Theory.

1.2 Galaxies, stars and planets.

1.3 Origins of life.

1.4 Other intelligent life.

1.5 Theories of the origin of life.

Concepts and calculations.

2. Starlight, galaxies and clusters.

2.1 Simple stellar models–black body radiation.

2.2 2.726 K#8211;cosmic microwave background radiation.

2.3 Stellar classification.

2.4 Constellations.

2.5 Galaxies.

2.6 Cosmology.

Concepts and calculations.


3. Atomic and molecular astronomy.

3.1 Spectroscopy and the structure of matter.

3.2 Line shape.

3.3 Telescopes.

3.4 Atomic spectroscopy.

3.5 Molecular astronomy.

3.6 Molecular masers.

3.7 Detection of hydrogen.

3.8 Diffuse interstellar bands.

3.9 Spectral mapping.

Concepts and calculations.


4. Stellar chemistry.

4.1 Classes of stars.

4.2 Herzprung–Russell diagram.

4.3 Stellar evolution.

4.4 Stellar spectra.

4.5 Exotic stars.

4.6 Cycle of star formation.

Concepts and calculations


5. The interstellar medium.

5.1 Mapping clouds of molecules.

5.2 Molecules in the interstellar and circumstellar medium.

5.3 Physical conditions in the interstellar medium.

5.4 Rates of chemical reactions.

5.5 Chemical reactions in the interstellar medium.

5.6 Photochemistry.

5.7 Charged particle chemistry.

5.8 Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

5.9 Dust grains.

5.10 Kinetic models of molecular clouds.

5.11 Prebiotic molecules in the interstellar medium.

Concepts and calculations.


6. Meteorite and comet chemistry.

6.1 Formation of the solar system.

6.2 Classification of meteorites.

6.3 Meteorite mineralogy.

6.4 Geological time.

6.5 Chemical analysis of meteorites by µL2MS.

6.6 The Murchison meteorite–kerogen.

6.7 Meteorite ALH84001.

6.8 Comet chemistry.

6.9 Structure of a comet.

6.10 Physicochemical conditions in a cometary coma.

6.11 Chemical composition of comets.

6.12 Cometary collisions.

6.13 The Rosetta mission–origin of the solar system.

Concepts and calculations.


7. Planetary chemistry.

7.1 Structure of a star–planet system.

7.2 Surface gravity.

7.3 Formation of the Earth.

7.4 Earth–Moon system.

7.5 Geological time.

7.6 Radiative heating.

7.7 The habitable zone.

7.8 Extrasolar planets.

7.9 Planetary atmospheres.

7.10 Atmospheric photochemistry.

7.11 Biomarkers in the atmosphere.

Concepts and calculations.


8. Prebiotic chemistry.

8.1 Carbon- and water-based life forms.

8.2 Spontaneous chemical reactions.

8.3 Rates of chemical reactions.

8.4 Endogenous production of organic molecules.

8.5 Exogenous delivery of organic molecules.

8.6 Homochirality.

8.7 Surface metabolism–'clay organisms'.

8.8 Geothermal vents–'black smokers'.

8.9 RNA World hypothesis.

Concepts and calculations.


9. Primitive life forms.

9.1 Self-assembly and encapsulation.

9.2 Protocells.

9.3 Universal tree of life.

9.4 Astrobiology.

9.5 Microbial Mars.

Concepts and calculations.


10. Titan.

10.1 Physical properties.

10.2 The atmosphere.

10.3 Temperature-dependent chemistry.

10.4 Energy balance and the greenhouse effect.

10.5 Atmospheric chemistry.

10.6 Astrobiology on Titan.

Concepts and calculations.


Glossary of terms and abbreviations.

Appendix A: constants and units.

Appendix B: astronomical data.

Appendix C: thermodynamic properties of selected compounds.

Answers to problems.



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The Wiley Advantage

  • A concise introduction astrochemistry
  • Brings together relevant chemistry, physics, astronomy and biology
  • Includes the latest research and results form ground and space missions
  • Includes worked examples and problems at the end of chapters
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"It is written in a relaxed but enthusiastic style." (Physical Sciences Educational Reviews, December 2006)

"The book is recommended for anyone interested in the universe…" (CHOICE, April 2007)

"…written in a relaxed but enthusiastic style…not aware of any recent comparable text." (Physical Sciences Educational Reviews, December 2006)

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Instructors Resources
Wiley Instructor Companion Site
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