The Fundamentals of Stellar Astrophysics

Web Edition

by G.W. Collins II

Preface to the (2003) WEB Edition

One may justifiability wonder why anyone would take the time to put a decade-old book on astrophysics on the WEB. Several events of the past few months have led me to believe that may well be some who wish to learn about the basics of stellar structure. Since the fundamentals of stellar astrophysics have changed little in the past decade and as this book has been out of print for nearly that long, I felt that some may still find it useful for learning the basics. The task was somewhat facilitated by my discovery of some old machine-readable disks that contained a version of the book including some of the corrections to the published version. With considerable help from Charles Knox, I was able to retrieve the information from the out-dated format and transfer the text to a contemporary word processor. However, the equations were lost in the process so that their inclusion in this edition had to take another form. This was accomplished by scanning the originals from the book and correcting those with errors in a variety of ways. This accounts for the fonts of the equations being somewhat at variance with that of the text. However, I believe that difference does not detract significantly from the understandability of the material. The most common form of correction was to simply re-set them with an equation editor embedded in the WORD processor. Equations look somewhat different from the others. However, the ability to correct errors that arose in the published edition seemed to out weigh any visual inconvenience.

The reader will notice that all the recommended reading is to books published prior to 1987. Some of this is a result of a predilection of mine to cite initial references, but most of it is a result of my failure to update the references to contemporary times. There have been a number of books and many articles during the past decade or so which would greatly enlighten the reader, but to include them would be a major part of a new book and lies beyond the scope of this effort.

While I have been able to correct the errors resulting from the first production of the book, I am sure new ones have materialized during its regeneration. Since special character and all the Greek alphabet letters did not convert correctly during the recovery it is likely that some have escaped my attempts to replace them. For this and any other errors that may have occurred I apologize in advance. In addition, I have simply copied the index for the W. H. Freeman edition so that the page numbers may not correspond to the values presented here. However, the pagination at the beginning and end of each chapter does correspond to the W. H. Freeman edition so that the error within any chapter is likely to be less than a page or so. This was felt to be sufficiently close so that much of the value of an index would be preserved. Finally, I have included errata to the W. H. Freeman edition as the final part of the book. It was initially prepared in 1991, but the publisher refused to permit it to accompany the first printing. However, I have always felt the value of any text book was materially enhanced by knowing the errors incurred during its preparation. While it is not considered to be complete, I feel that most of the substantive errors are covered. They, and others, have been corrected in the WEB edition.

I have resisted the temptation to update the material since that would have been a monumental task approaching the original generation of the book itself with little increase in the reader’s depth of understanding. In the original version of this text I included only that astrophysics that one could be reasonably confident was correct and would pass the test of time. Thus there were several subject sketchily addressed due to lack of knowledge. Sadly few of the “skeletons” that reside in the “closet” of stellar astrophysics have been properly buried in the past decade. Stellar evolution beyond the helium-flash in low mass stars still is a bit murky. While the evolution of massive stars toward their final demise is clearer than a decade ago, models of the final collapse to a Type II supernova remain unsatisfactory. The role of rotation in the evolution of stars onto the Main Sequence, while clearly important also seems poorly understood. However, I am confidant that application of the fundamental physics of stellar astrophysics along with the explosive expansion of computing power will lead to the solutions of these problems in the present century.

While the copyright for ISBN# 7176-1993-2) was returned to me by W.H. Freeman in May of 1997 when the book went out of print, I have no real desire financially profit from its further distribution. As others can readily attest, one doesn’t get rich writing graduate texts in astronomy. I will find payment enough should others find it helpful in understanding stars. However, should anyone find its contents helpful and wish to cite them, I would appreciate that proper attribution be made.

Finally, in addition to being indebted to Charlie Knox for his help in rescuing the text from an old computer-readable form, I am beholden to John Martin for helping me get these sections ready for the Internet.

George W. Collins, II

Case Western Reserve University

January 2003

Table of Contents

Last Updated 22 January 2003