About this book


The formation of galaxies is one of the greatest puzzles in astronomy, the solution is shrouded in the depths of space and time, but has profound implications for the universe we observe today. The book discusses the beginnings of the process from cosmological observations and calculations, considers the broad features of galaxies that we need to explain and what we know of their later history. The author compares the competing theories for galaxy formation and considers the progress expected from new generations of powerful telescopes both on earth and in space.

In this second edition the author has retained the observationally-based approach of the first edition, a feature which was particularly well-reviewed: Writing in Nature, Carlton Baugh noted in February 2003 that “It is refreshing, in a market dominated by theorists, to come across a book on galaxy formation written from an observational perspective. The Road to Galaxy Formation should prove to be a handy primer on observations for graduate students, advanced undergraduates and theorists who feel too shy to visit a telescope”.

The New Scientist wrote in March 2003: “William Keel delicately balances observational evidence against today's relevant theoretical possibilities”.

And Sepehr Arbabi-Bidgoli wrote in Astronomische Nachrichten that “Reading this book I often felt like sitting in an exciting and entertaining lecture given by an astronomer who knows the subject and knows how to present it to the audience”.

A Bibliography at the end of each chapter contains a resumé of books, selected research papers and Web resources providing guidance to further reading.


Cosmology Galaxy Galaxyformation Universe astronomy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

Bibliographic information


From the reviews of the second edition:

"The work is clearly a labor of love. It immerses the reader in a thorough explanation of the latest data from modern ground- and space-based observatories. From Hubble’s original galaxy classification system to the standard cosmological model, it is all here. This is a well-organized, well-placed, and thoroughly referenced ‘golden review’ of galactic formation and evolution--a must have for any serious student or scientist in the field. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduate through professional collections." (T. D. Oswalt, CHOICE, Vol. 45 (8), 2008)

"Keel explores in this book … that the assembly of galaxies as we now see them has occurred continuously over the past 12 or 13 Gyr and can be studied in at least two ways: by looking far back, at large redshifts, and by winkling out the oldest stars surviving in the Milky Way and other nearby galaxies. … Keel’s style is conversational; indeed the book is delightfully written, and the annotations to the bibliographic items pithy and informative." (Virginia Trimble, The Observatory, Vol. 128 (1203), 2008)