November 14, 2005
Professor emeritus Donald Osterbrock updates
classic astrophysics book
By Tim Stephens
Donald Osterbrock, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics,
has produced a completely revised edition of his classic book
Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and Active Galactic Nuclei.
Osterbrock collaborated with Gary Ferland of the University
of Kentucky to update the book, which has been a standard reference
book for astrophysicists for more than 30 years.
The first edition of Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and
Active Galactic Nuclei was published in 1989 and was an
expanded version of Osterbrock's earlier book, Astrophysics
of Gaseous Nebulae (W. H. Freeman & Co., 1974). The
new edition was just published by University Science Books.
Gaseous nebulae are the birthplaces of stars--clouds of gas
and dust within galaxies where young stars are formed. Different
kinds of nebulae are characterized by the radiation they emit.
Active galactic nuclei, thought to be powered by supermassive
black holes, emit tremendous amounts of energy from the central
regions of galaxies.
Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and Active Galactic Nuclei
is a graduate-level text and reference book on gaseous nebulae,
nova and supernova remnants, and the emission-line regions in
Seyfert galaxies, radio galaxies, quasars, and other types of
active galactic nuclei. Much of the new data and many of the
new images are from the Hubble Space Telescope and some of the
largest ground-based telescopes in the world. Two completely
new chapters have been added, one on infrared astronomy and
the other on x-ray astronomy, reflecting the great advances
in these fields.
Osterbrock, a world-renowned research astrophysicist, came
to UCSC in 1972 and served as director of Lick Observatory for
eight years. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago
at its Yerkes Observatory, was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton
University, and was a faculty member at the California Institute
of Technology and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A council
member of the National Academy of Sciences, Osterbrock served
as president of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) from
1988 to 1990 and was named its Henry Norris Russell lecturer,
its highest honor, in 1991. He taught astronomy and astrophysics
courses at Caltech, Wisconsin, and UCSC, and many of the current
leaders of astrophysical research on nebulae and active galactic
nuclei worked with him as graduate students or as postdoctoral
In addition to his research accomplishments, Osterbrock has
written several books on the history of astronomy. In 2002,
he received the AAS's LeRoy E. Doggett Prize in the History
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