© 2014

Principles of Astrophysics

Using Gravity and Stellar Physics to Explore the Cosmos

Part of the Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics book series (ULNP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Charles Keeton
    Pages 1-17
  3. Using Gravity and Motion to Measure Mass

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 19-19
    2. Charles Keeton
      Pages 21-34
    3. Charles Keeton
      Pages 35-51
    4. Charles Keeton
      Pages 53-78
    5. Charles Keeton
      Pages 79-88
    6. Charles Keeton
      Pages 89-98
    7. Charles Keeton
      Pages 99-126
    8. Charles Keeton
      Pages 127-142
    9. Charles Keeton
      Pages 143-175
    10. Charles Keeton
      Pages 177-219
    11. Charles Keeton
      Pages 221-239
  4. Using Stellar Physics to Explore the Cosmos

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 241-241
    2. Charles Keeton
      Pages 243-261
    3. Charles Keeton
      Pages 263-283
    4. Charles Keeton
      Pages 285-297
    5. Charles Keeton
      Pages 299-324
    6. Charles Keeton
      Pages 325-350
    7. Charles Keeton
      Pages 351-364

About this book


This book gives a survey of astrophysics at the advanced undergraduate level.  It originates from a two-semester course sequence at Rutgers University that is meant to appeal not only to astrophysics students but also more broadly to physics and engineering students.  The organization is driven more by physics than by astronomy; in other words, topics are first developed in physics and then applied to astronomical systems that can be investigated, rather than the other way around.

The first half of the book focuses on gravity.  Gravity is the dominant force in many astronomical systems, so a tremendous amount can be learned by studying gravity, motion and mass.  The theme in this part of the book, as well as throughout astrophysics, is using motion to investigate mass.  The goal of Chapters 2-11 is to develop a progressively richer understanding of gravity as it applies to objects ranging from planets and moons to galaxies and the universe as a whole. The second half uses other aspects of physics to address one of the big questions.   While “Why are we here?” lies beyond the realm of physics, a closely related question is within our reach: “How did we get here?”  The goal of Chapters 12-21 is to understand the physics behind the  remarkable story of how the Universe, Earth and life were formed. This book assumes familiarity with vector calculus and introductory physics (mechanics, electromagnetism, gas physics and atomic physics); however, all of the physics topics are reviewed as they come up (and vital aspects of vector calculus are reviewed in the Appendix).

This volume is aimed at undergraduate students majoring in astrophysics, physics or engineering.


Astrophysical Estimation Techniques Celestial Mechanics Cosmological Expansion General Relativity Theory Gravitational Problems Special Relativity Theory Stellar Properties Tidal Forces Explained

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Physics & Astronomy DepartmentRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA

About the authors

Charles Keeton earned a B.A. in Physics (summa cum laude) from Cornell University in 1994, and a Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University in 1998. He held the Bart J. Bok Fellowship at the University of Arizona and a NASA Hubble Fellowship at the University of Chicago before joining the faculty of Rutgers University in 2004. Keeton has published 89 refereed journal articles in major international astronomy journals. He has received the following awards:
•2007: Rutgers Society of Physics Students, Outstanding Teacher Award
•2010: White House, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
•2010: Rutgers University, Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence
•2010: Rutgers University, Board of Trustees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence
In 2011, Keeton was named Faculty Director of the Aresty Research Center for Undergraduates at Rutgers University.

Bibliographic information


From the book reviews:

“The book is divided into two parts, each part corresponding to a one semester course. … This book is an excellent introduction to astrophysics. It can be used as a text for courses on the subject. Problems are included at the end of each chapter with solutions in the back. Also, each chapter ends with a list of references for further study.” (Stephen Wollman, zbMATH, Vol. 1302, 2015)