Beginner’s Guide To Astrophysics

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Astrophysics is a stream of science that deals with the structure of the sun, stars, planets, and other cosmic bodies.

However, it is a branch of astronomy and covers all aspects of physics under it.

There is a thin line difference between astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology. But one thing is sure that all such studies are related to the universe and the cosmos, and all are interconnected.

In this article, we will know more about origin, scope, and achievements under the astrophysics branch of space science.

What Is Astrophysics?
What Is Astrophysics?

Definition

When you combine the words ‘astronomy’ and ‘physics,’ it becomes astrophysics. So, the study of physical and chemical properties of objects of the space or the universe is called astrophysics.

Basically, it researches and creates physical theories and chemical composition of stars, planets, galaxies, and other medium-size structures in the universe. It covers the origin and death of objects of space and reason behind them.

Scope

The scope of astrophysics is much wider than the word combination of astronomy and physics. Its goals are its scope. However, different institutes define different goals for this study.

But all of them, common goals are discovering how universe work and how planets are forming and diminishing. It includes the birth and death of stars along with the search for life on other stars or planets.

This study is further bifurcated in two parts, theoretical astrophysics, and observational astrophysics. The former employs the laws of physics and its mathematic calculation while the later checks its practical aspects against reality.

By the end of the 20th century, its scope of study expanded to cover wavelengths through optical, X-ray, and gamma-rays. Gradually, gravitational waves also become part of it.

What Is Astrophysics?
What Is Astrophysics?

History

At times, it became a routine task to measure the position and movement of astronomical objects. So, astrophysics rose as another stream of astronomy.

However, its roots are found in the 17th century when some laws were applied to the celestial and terrestrial objects.

The ‘Newton period’ was a turning point in astronomy. Prior to this, astronomers used mathematical calculations and complex models to describe the motions in the space without any physical scope or base.

Isaac Newton put natural laws of physics to understand celestial and other regions. The challenge was to prove it. And in the lack of tools, it was hard to prove such things at that time.

Gradually, till the mid of 19th century, various astrophysicists invented tools and proved how physics is equally important for understanding the universe.

Milestones

When Newton concluded that objects of space and the earth are subject to the same physical laws, it gave wings to the new aspects of astrophysics.

Study through spectroscopy revealed that nebulae are purely gaseous and stars are predominantly hydrogenous.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity and Stephen’s Big Bang Theory are the most bases for further studies. It proved a lot of things.

Such theories said that the universe is expanding and nuclear fusion power stars. Initially, stars were formed of hydrogen only. And nuclear fusion process smashes them and form helium.

This is how other gases took place gradually. So, according to all such theories, we all are stardust.