Space Chemistry

We now come to Space Chemistry by L. Nikolaev. The book covers aspects of astrophysics and astronomy with stars, planets, comets and meteorites and other celestial bodies from a perspective of chemistry and hence that of spectroscopy. The last chapter is on ways of formation of organic molecules in space.

In this small book an attempt has been made to set forth the distinguishing features of the chemical phenomena characteristic of outer space. We have allotted special attention to the theoretical and experimental methods of investigation of space, avoiding however, repetition of the material contained in school courses of physics and chemistry. At the same time, striving to make the book as popular as possible, we confined ourselves only to the most essential information concerning the nature of the atomic nucleus, the laws of nuclear energetics, the origin of various kinds of spectra, etc. The scope of the knowledge of physics, chemistry and mathematics given at our secondary schools is quite sufficient for understanding this book.

The textbook is designed for upper grade students of secondary schools. It contains information about the chemical composition of the planets of solar system, meteorites, the Sun, about synthesis of elements on the stars, the methods of studying space chemistry, as well as catalytic nature of nuclear processes.

The author describes the behaviour of substances at very high and very low temperatures and pressures, considers the possibility of the formation of organic compounds in outer space and in pre-biological period on Earth.

This book was translated from the Russian by Y. Nadler and was first published by Mir in 1976.

You can get the book here.

Update: Added Internet Archive link. 03 December 2015


Chapter I. Research Methods Used in Space Chemistry 12
1. Light Rays and Chemical Composition 12
2. “Optical Specifications” of an Atom 16
3. Cosmic Matter on the Earth 24
4. Analytical Procedures and Techniques 29
Chapter II. Chemical Composition of Celestial Bodies The Solar System 37
1. Meteorites .37
2. Chemistry of the Solar System 53
3. The Sun and Planets of the Solar System 56
4. The Planets 65

Chapter III. Scope of Earth and Space Chemistry 94
1. General 94
2. What Happens to Matter at High Pressure 97
3. What Happens to Matter at High Temperatures 100
4. Plasma State of Matter 103

Chapter IV. The World of Stars
1. Brightness and Luminosity of Stars
2. The Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) Diagram and Stellar Evolution
3. Chemical Composition of Stars
4. Stellar Atmospheres. Light and Gravitation
5. Novae
6. Supernovae
7. Comets

Chapter V. Nuclear Reactions and Sources of Stellar Energy
1. Constituents of the Atomic Nucleus .
2. Properties of Some Elementary Particles
3. Nuclear Reactions
4. Nuclear Energy Sources
5. Types of Nuclear Reactions
6. Sources of Solar Energy

Chapter VI. Evolution of Stars and Synthesis of Elements
1. Stages in the Life History of Stars
2. The Most Important Nuclear Reactions in Stars
3. Interstellar Matter
4. Possibility of Formation of Organic Compounds Due to Action of Protons in Solar and Cosmic Radiation
5. Chemistry and Cosmology

Chapter VII. Primary Synthesis of Organic Compounds
1. Physical Factors which Affect Synthesis
2. Action of Light on Matter
3. Relative Role of Various Energy Sources in Synthesis of Primary Organic Compounds
4. Principal Types of Chemical Processes in Space

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7 Responses to Space Chemistry

  1. mir_fan says:

    Thank you very much !. If there is also pdf format it will be good (as not many djvu readers in tablets android/iOS)

  2. Jek45 says:

    Gey guys.. I’m getting an error while attempting to download the file from … could someone post a 4shared or similar link

  3. desperadomar says:

    @Jek45, The link is working fine please check , solve the captcha and download the file, I will soon post the 4shared link

  4. ITABOY says:

    Neither 4Shared nor working for me. any suggestions?

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