Parting the Cosmic Veil describes our gradual awareness of a vast, previously concealed Universe. It is a story of expanding horizons and the discovery of invisible worlds, made possible with new technology and novel telescopes that have broadened our range of perception and sharpened our vision. Spacecraft have carried men to the Moon, and traveled throughout the Solar System, obtaining close-up views that have transformed the moons and planets from moving points of light to fascinating, diverse worlds. Modern technology has also enabled the detection of giant planets around other stars, taking us one step closer to the possible detection of life outside the Earth. Astronomers have used telescopes, operating at the visible wavelengths that we see with our eye, to reveal the true extent of the Milky Way and discover billions of remote galaxies that are rushing away from us in an expanding Universe. Each of these galaxies contains billions of stars wheeling around their massive central hub. Radio waves and X-rays, which lie beyond the range of visual perception, are used to detect a violent Universe, from exploding stars to gamma ray bursts and the Big Bang itself, with the associated discoveries of pulsars, black holes and quasars. Radio astronomers have also shown that the dark spaces between the stars contain vast tracts of cold hydrogen atoms and a host of molecules. Dark invisible matter has been discovered residing outside the shining stars and galaxies, outweighing them all. And a mysterious dark energy has also been found, which fills the nooks and crannies of seemingly empty space. The Cosmos is evolving, participating in ongoing processes of creation, destruction, and re-birth. But even though we are pushing the boundaries of knowledge closer to an understanding of the origins and destinies, of either the Universe or Life, the ultimate answers to these grand questions still lie hidden behind the Cosmic Veil. TOC:Preface.- Discovering the Unknown.- Brave New Worlds.- Motion, Content and Form.- The Violent Universe.- Illusory Emptiness.- Unanswered Questions.- Timeline of Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology.- Glossary.- Index
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