Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION OF BAADE’S 1938 PAPER, PROPOSING THAT SUPERNOVAE WOULD BE USEFUL STANDARD CANDLES FOR MEASURING ACCURATE COSMIC DISTANCES (Lee, Modern Supernova Search, Astronomy, SEES, 1). In a separate paper also in this volume, “Baade and Zwicky [give] the first description of the typical light-curves of supernovae consisting of an initial outburst lasting for a few weeks, following which the brightness decreases exponentially with a half-life of about 60 days” (Longair, The Cosmic Century). Both appear in this volume, as do two other papers by Zwicky.
In 1934, Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky authored “two of the most prescient papers in the astronomical literature coined the term “supernova,” hypothesized the existence of neutron stars, and knit them together with the origin of cosmic-rays to inaugurate one of the most surprising syntheses in the annals of science” (Burrows, “Super-novae,” neutron stars, and cosmic rays” PNAS 2.3.2015, 1241). The authors argued that ‘cosmic rays are produced in the super-nova process’. Eighty four years later, this remains the view of most astrophysicists.
In this 1938 paper, Baade presents his observations that supernovae are a more homogeneous class of objects than novae – in other words, that since a supernova is as powerful as a few billion suns, supernovae might be suitable as extragalactic distance indicators. “Just as Hubble had used cepheid variables to chart the distances to nearby galaxies, Baade reasoned that the supernovae might be useful yardsticks to intermediate distances, large enough to provide an independent calibration of the Hubble constant” (Kirschner).
Baade’s research “found the mean absolute magnitude at maximum light for 18 supernovae4 to be –14.3m , with a dispersion of ~1.1m” (Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 19(2), 203–215 (2016). Their peak brightness seemed to be quite uniform, and they were bright enough to be seen at extremely large distances” (Baade, 1938; Perlmutter, Supernovae, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe). Baade presents supernovae as promising but coarse rulers for measuring cosmic distances; today, with the development of new, more accurate standardization techniques, supernovae are understood as “the very best standard candle for cosmology” (Kirschner, The Extravagant Universe, 139).
Baade’s paper also presented a compilation of photometric data and spectroscopic evidence that “fully confirmed [his seminal 1934 work with Zwicky] the view that two classes of novae, common novae and supernovae, exist” (Baade, 1938).
Of Zwicky’s two solo papers in this volume: “On Collapsed Neutron Stars” appeared on the heels of a letter written by Landau (and published in Nature) confirming the neutron state as possible. The second, “On the Frequency of Supernovae” argues that based on his data, “the average frequency of occurrence of supernovae is about one supernova per extragalactic nebula per six hundred years.
ALSO INCLUDED: First edition of I. S. Bowen’s invention of the image slicer, a device that improves the efficiency of the slit spectrograph. “The Image-Slicer, A Device For Reducing Loss Of Light At Slit Of Stellar Spectrograph” (pp. 113-125). Item #1111
CONDITION & DETAILS: Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Complete full volume. 4to. 634pp. Institutional with discrete gilt at the foot of the spine and a small stamp on the back of the title page. In-text figures and photographic plates throughout. Bound in marbled boards with some minor scuffing over black cloth, gilt-lettered at the spine. Tight and very solidly bound. Bright and clean throughout. Very good.