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Astrophysics Introduction to Space Physics by M.G.Kivelson and C.T.Russell

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  1. Feb 21, 2013 #1


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    • Author: Margaret G. Kivelson and Christopher T. Russell (Editors)
    • Title: Introduction to Space Physics
    • Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Space-Physics-Margaret-Kivelson/dp/0521457149
    • Prerequisities: Introductory physics, modern physics, calculus through PDEs, E&M, introductory astrophysics/astronomy (basically three years of a Physics BS program)
    • Contents: Undergraduate, upper level; Graduate, introductory

    Table of Contents

    1. Brief history of solar terrestrial physics
    2. Physics of space plasmas
    3. The Sun
    4. The solar wind
    5. Collisionless shocks
    6. Interactions with magnetized planets
    7. Ionospheres
    8. Interactions with unmagnetized bodies
    9. Magnetopause, tail and reconnection
    10. Magnetospheric configuration
    11. Magnetic pulsations
    12. Plasma waves
    13. Magnetospheric dynamics
    14. The aurora and the auroral ionosphere
    15. Magnetospheres of outer planets

    From the publisher:
    Publisher's webpage - http://www.cambridge.org/us/knowledge/isbn/item1145043/?site_locale=en_US
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2013 #2


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    This is a reasonable book for upper division undergrads and beginning grads. Pre-requisites listed above are spot on. The book presents very basic theory, some useful examples of real data, and some helpful cartoons. This was the required book (it had just come out, I think) for a course on "solar-terrestrial physics" that I took in grad school, so I am quite familiar with the book. Our course was only loosely based on the book, however, as the course had been offered for many years with no text. Also, everyone in the course had already taken at least one semester of plasma physics.

    The choice of topics in this book is excellent, and many of the chapters are written by well-known experts in the fields. I felt like a lot of effort was put into providing an understanding of the physics and the experimental basis for our understanding - mostly data from spacecraft. Some of the homework problems are quite interesting, while others are not so much (I recall some of the "solve this pde" variety ...). As someone who specialized in plasma waves, I am usually disappointed in wave chapters in standard intro plasma books, and this book follows that trend. Not that it is bad or that I could write a better intro - it just offered no insight beyond other elementary treatments. The chapter on magnetic pulsations was more interesting to me, however, and had some interesting problems as well that I worked just out of my own curiosity.

    Nice supplements to this book are: "physics of space plasmas" by Parks, and "the Earth's ionosphere" by Kelley. In some ways Parks is more rigorous than Kivelson and Russel, but he has a more limited scope. I used Parks as a personal supplement when I took intro plasma physics, and I particularly remember liking the way Parks presented single particle motion and the double-adiabatic approximation, all better than my lecturer! Kelley's book is (in my opinion) THE book on the Earth's ionosphere, and covers many details neither of these other books have room to address. For both Parks and Kelley, new editions have come out since I left the field - hopefully they have been improved!

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