This small book is intended as a general introduction to astrophysical fluid dynamics. The reader is presumed to possess a knowledge of basic physics, namely, classical physics, elements of relativity, and introductory ideas about quantum mechanics. No previous knowledge of fluid dynamics or of astrophysics is required, these topics being introduced in the book. Although fluid dynamics may constitute a complementary, original, natural, fecund, unexplored, simple, and enjoyable way to introduce astrophysics, the topic of astrophysical fluid dynamics is a promising, distinct, and particularly wide branch of astrophysics at the present time.
The first part of the book (Chapters 1–4) deals with basic fluid dynamics. Although it could also be used for non-astrophysical purposes, it was written with the former in mind. It often includes cosmic examples that are mainly related to a stationary, static, and stratified atmosphere. These conditions provide the greatest simplification while maintaining a high degree of astrophysical interest.
Following the first chapter on classical fluids, Chapter 2 is devoted to relativistic fluids. The early introduction of relativistic fluids is necessary, as many cosmic fluids, and the cosmic fluid itself, are relativistic. One important advantage is that radiative transfer can be developed as transport in a relativistic fluid, thereby avoiding the usual classical mis-interpretation of the radiative Boltzmann equation. Plasmas and magnetohydrodynamics are also included because of their growing interest in the field of astrophysics. The important role played by magnetic fields in a large sample of cosmic systems is only now beginning to be appreciated.