Astrophysics

Subfield of astronomy / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics and chemistry in the study of astronomical objects and phenomena.[1][2] As one of the founders of the discipline, James Keeler, said, Astrophysics "seeks to ascertain the nature of the heavenly bodies, rather than their positions or motions in space–what they are, rather than where they are."[3] Among the subjects studied are the Sun (solar physics), other stars, galaxies, extrasolar planets, the interstellar medium and the cosmic microwave background.[4][5] Emissions from these objects are examined across all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the properties examined include luminosity, density, temperature, and chemical composition. Because astrophysics is a very broad subject, astrophysicists apply concepts and methods from many disciplines of physics, including classical mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, relativity, nuclear and particle physics, and atomic and molecular physics.

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Early 1900s comparison of elemental, solar, and stellar spectra

In practice, modern astronomical research often involves a substantial amount of work in the realms of theoretical and observational physics. Some areas of study for astrophysicists include their attempts to determine the properties of dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and other celestial bodies; and the origin and ultimate fate of the universe.[4] Topics also studied by theoretical astrophysicists include Solar System formation and evolution; stellar dynamics and evolution; galaxy formation and evolution; magnetohydrodynamics; large-scale structure of matter in the universe; origin of cosmic rays; general relativity, special relativity, quantum and physical cosmology, including string cosmology and astroparticle physics.

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