The Astrophysics Spectator

Home

Topics

Interactive Pages

Commentary

Other Pages

Information

Bibliography

Overview

The writings on this web site are based on the astronomical research published in the professional journals.  The pages listed in the table of contents to the left contain references to books and articles that either were consulted in writing this site's pages or are deemed useful to the reader.  This bibliography is not a complete survey of research in astrophysics; the criterion for citing a work in these pages is purely utilitarian.

The citations are most often to review articles written for professional astronomers.  These reviews are generally surveys of the contemporary scientific literature within a narrow field of astrophysics.  Readers interested in an introduction to the literature should consult these.  Be aware, however, that on occasion a review is more an introduction to the review author's work or to the work of scientists sharing that author's biases than an objective review of the complete literature.  Even the best reviews contain references to unremarkable articles included for political reasons, and they neglect some minority viewpoints through oversight or from page constraints.

When specific values are given on this web site for a quantity, such as the distance to the center of the Galaxy or the rate of expansion of the universe, research papers presenting original research are usually cited.  Some references contain links to an online version of the paper, preferably to a version published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Online Sources of Scientific Articles

Most of the articles cited on this web site are available online.  Most articles more than several years old are available through the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS).  These articles include articles published in the scientific journals and articles published in conference proceedings.  Preprints of recently published articles and of articles that are in press are often available through the arXiv preprint archive, particularly under the Astrophysics link.  Both of these sites are open to the public, and the articles at these sites are available at no charge.

Some articles are available online for a fee.  This is particularly true of the review articles from the series Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics and of the recent articles published in the primary scientific journals.  Abstracts for articles published in the journals of the American Astronomical SocietyThe Astrophysical Journal and The Astronomical Journal—are available online for free; the articles themselves require a subscription or a payment of a fee.

The Astrophysical Literature

The scientific literature divides into two types of article: formal articles published in the peer-reviewed scientific journals, and the more informal articles in the proceedings of scientific conferences.  Most original research eventually appears in the scientific journals, but it usually appears first in conference proceedings.

The principal journals for publishing the results of scientific research are The Astrophysical Journal (often referred to as ApJ—pronounced “ap jay”—in the community), which is published by the American Astronomical Society, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS or Monthly Notices), which is a British scientific journal, and Astronomy and Astrophysics, which is a European scientific journal.  These journals are effectively international journals, publishing articles by scientists from around the world.  The articles in these journals are peer-reviewed before publication.  Many other journals publish astrophysical research; some, such as Nature, are international, but many more are regional in their impact.  Among the secondary journals is The Astronomical Journal, published by the American Astronomical Society, which is a journal for observational astronomy.  Most of the original articles cited on this web site are from The Astrophysical Journal, The Astrophysical Journal, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Several journals exist to present reviews of the scientific literature.  Most of these journals cover all physics, rather than just astrophysics and astronomy.  An important exception is the Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics.  As implied by the title, this series of books is published once a year.  Each issue presents roughly a dozen literature reviews of narrow topics within astronomy.  The shortcoming of the series is that some fields within astronomy are neglects for many years before a new review article is written.

A conference proceedings is a book containing several long articles based on invited talks and many short articles based on 3 to 5 minute talks given by conference participants.  At a narrowly-focused conference, at least one of the invited talks is a survey of the field at the time of the conference.  These reviews are generally the best introductions to subfields of astronomy and astrophysics, because they are the most current reviews in the literature.  On the other hand, they are the reviews that are most often biased, reflecting the underlying political agenda of the conference organizers.  Specifically, conferences are sometimes organized to promote a particular experiment or theory, and this bias can pervade a review article.

Links to Online Journals and Archives

The links to the web sites mentioned in the body of this article are repeated below.  One can also find the links given below on the Astrophysics Resources on the Web page.

NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
The ADS is an online catalog of the astronomy and physics literature.  Reprints of many journal conference proceedings articles are available from this site in a variety of formats, including the PDF format.  Generally the articles that are available are several years old.  The most recently published articles are generally only available as abstracts.
arXiv Preprint Archive
This site is the primary archive for preprints in the physical sciences.  The preprints can be either for journal articles or for articles appearing in conference proceedings.  The papers on astronomy are available under the Astrophysics link of the home page.  This is the site to search for articles that are not yet available online at the primary journal site or are not yet in print.
Annual Reviews, Inc.
Annual Reviews is the publisher of numerous series of books that review the scientific literature.  The series that covers astronomy is Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics.  The articles in each issue cover narrow topics of study; they are written by experts in the field.  The review articles are available for a fee or to those who subscribe to the annual series.
The Astrophysical Journal
This is the primary journal for astronomy and astrophysics in the United States, although the authors published in the journal are from around the world.  All articles appearing in this journal are peer-reviewed.  The journal is published under three separate sections: the main journal of moderately-long articles, which is called The Astrophysical Journal; the rapid-publication section for short articles, which is called The Astrophysical Journal Letters, and the section for very long articles and articles filled with tables of data, which is called The Astrophysical Journal Supplement.  The main journal and the letters are published three times a month, while the supplement is published once a month.  The journal is a publication of the American Astronomical Society.  Abstracts are free, and journal articles are available for a fee.
The Astronomical Journal
This peer-reviewed journal specializes in astronomical observations.  It is a publication of the American Astronomical Society, appearing monthly.  Abstracts are free, and journal articles are available for a fee.
Ad image for The Astrophysics Spectator.