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Principles of Physical Cosmology$
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P. J. E. Peebles

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691209814

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691209814.001.0001

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Topics in Modern Cosmology

Topics in Modern Cosmology

(p.361) III. Topics in Modern Cosmology
Principles of Physical Cosmology

P. J. E. Peebles


This chapter recounts the discovery that the spiral nebulae are galaxies of stars and coequals of the Milky Way, which led to the exploration of a new level in the hierarchy of structure in the physical universe called the realm of the spiral nebulae. It details how cosmology has grown to include the study of other systems, such as the radiation backgrounds and the gas cloud, but common luminous galaxies comparable to the Milky Way remain the centerpiece. It also highlights some of the ways people came to see that the spiral nebulae as island universes of stars and discusses some elements of the systematics of the structures and spatial distribution of the galaxies. The chapter reviews the luminosity of the Milky Way galaxy that had been estimated from star counts and statistical estimates of star distances by 1920. It mentions Ernst Öpik, who put the ratio of the mass to luminosity.

Keywords:   spiral nebulae, Milky Way, island universe, spatial distribution, star distance

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