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Astrophysics in a Nutshell
Dan Maoz

Winner of the 2009 Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award for an academic book, American Astronomical Society
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2007

New edition available in hardcover

bookjacket A Solutions Manual is available for qualified professors who have adopted this book in a course. To request a printed manual, enter ISBN: 9780691125848 at

bookjacket A Solutions Manual is available for qualified professors who have adopted this book in a course. To request a printed manual, enter ISBN: 9780691125848 at

Hardcover | 2007 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691125848


A concise but thorough introduction to the observational data and theoretical concepts underlying modern astronomy, Astrophysics in a Nutshell is designed for advanced undergraduate science majors taking a one-semester course. This well-balanced and up-to-date textbook covers the essentials of modern astrophysics--from stars to cosmology--emphasizing the common, familiar physical principles that govern astronomical phenomena, and the interplay between theory and observation.

In addition to traditional topics such as stellar remnants, galaxies, and the interstellar medium, Astrophysics in a Nutshell introduces subjects at the forefront of modern research, including black holes, dark matter, gravitational lensing, and dark energy, all updated with some of the latest observational results. To aid physical understanding, mathematical derivations are kept as simple, short, and clear as possible, and order-of-magnitude estimates, dimensional analysis, and scaling arguments are frequently used. These no-nonsense, "back-of-the-envelope" calculations train students to think like physicists. The book is amply illustrated with simple, clear figures and each chapter ends with a set of problems.

In addition to serving as a course textbook, Astrophysics in a Nutshell is an ideal review for a qualifying exam and a handy reference for teachers and researchers.

  • The most concise and up-to-date astrophysics textbook for science majors
  • Contains a broad and well-balanced choice of traditional subjects and current research topics
  • Uses simple, short, and clear derivations of physical results
  • Trains students in the essential skills of order-of-magnitude analysis
  • Includes teaching problems with each chapter


"Tel Aviv University professor Dan Maoz aims to provide a concise guide to the subject for advanced science undergraduates. The essentials of modern astrophysics are covered, from traditional topics such as stellar remnants and galaxies to recent research including dark matter and dark energy, while training students in order-of-magnitude analysis."--Times Higher Education

"[M]aoz makes generous and excellent use of back-of-the-envelope calculations and approximations to the more complete theory, accurate enough to both illustrate the physics and to arrive at decent numerical answers...Lots of material is squeezed into this thin volume. The treatment of stellar physics is particularly insightful; other topics--galaxies and galactic structure and cosmology, are also very well done."--K.L. Schick, Choice

"The presentation of so much material within 250 pages is done very skillfully, with a judicious balance between mathematical discussion and physical argument. The pedagogic value of the text is greatly enhanced by the problems given at the end of each chapter. Altogether, the book lives well up to the publisher's declared aims."--Leon Mestel, The Observatory


Praise from professors who have adopted the book: "Astrophysics in a Nutshell is a wonderful addition to the advanced undergraduate textbook literature. It covers the important physics with sufficient depth to capture the students' curiosity without getting them lost in too much detail. The book is extremely broad, reaching from stellar to extragalactic to cosmological physics. Nevertheless, from the instructor's point of view, the book is constructed in a convenient modular way, so that one can easily select the relevant parts for one's specific course in any of those areas. Finally, the book emphasizes to the student the fundamental interconnectedness of the different astrophysical subfields."--Volker Bromm, University of Texas at Austin

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