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Plasma Physics for Astrophysics
Russell M. Kulsrud

Paperback | 2004 | $85.00/ £59.00 | ISBN: 9780691120737
496 pp. | 6 x 9 | 140 line illus.
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In this book, a distinguished expert introduces plasma physics from the ground up, presenting it as a comprehensible field that can be grasped largely on the basis of physical intuition and qualitative reasoning, similar to other fields of physics. Plasmas are ionized gases that can be found in a hydrogen bomb explosion, the confinement chamber of an experimental fusion reactor, the solar corona, the aurora borealis, the interstellar medium, and the immediate vicinity of a gravitational black hole. Not surprisingly, plasma physics appears to consist of numerous topics arising independently from astrophysics, fusion physics, and other practical applications, and hence it remains a field poorly understood even by many astrophysicists. But, in fact, most of these topics can be approached from the same perspective, with a simple, physical intuition.

Selecting simple examples and presenting them in a simultaneously intuitive and rigorous manner, Russell Kulsrud guides readers through a careful derivation of the results and allows them to think through the physics for themselves. Thus, they are better prepared for complex cases and more general results. The first eleven chapters present topics by their importance to plasma physics while the last three chapters emphasize the field's astrophysical applications, applying the results accrued earlier. Throughout, many problems illustrate the field's applications. Based on a course the author taught for many years, Plasma Physics for Astrophysics is intended for graduate students as well as for working astrophysicists.

Review:

"Any graduate student or researcher interested in plasma physics, in either the laboratory or in astrophysics, should consider adding this book to their library."--D.B. Melrose, Australian Physics

"Plasma Physics for Astrophysics will have a life beyond the classroom as a reliable friend and trusted consultant on the shelf and in the hands of the practicing astrophysicist."--Physics Today

Endorsement:

"Russell Kulsrud has written an outstanding text that should raise the appreciation of plasma astrophysics within the general astronomy community at a time when the influence of plasma processes on what we observe is recognized to be of paramount importance."--Roger D. Blandford, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford University

"Perhaps the most important feature of this book is its pedagogical approach: its emphasis of physical understanding over detailed mathematics. Simple estimates and examples are given instead of rigorous derivations (rigorous results are then quoted). The writing is colloquial and accessible. This is an excellent approach, and it helps demystify a complex subject. Indeed, it is an approach that is lacking in many existing texts in the field."--Eliot Quataert, University of California, Berkeley

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