This area provides career information for astrophysics jobs including what astrophysicists do and where they are employed.
What is Astrophysics?
Astrophysics is a specialization in the field of astronomy. It is about the physics of the universe. This includes the physical properties such as density, temperature, chemical composition and luminosity of stars, planets, galaxies and the interstellar medium and all of their interactions.
Cosmology is theoretical astrophysics with its largest scope. The astrophysicist is a scientist whose professional work is research and study of astrophysics.
What Do Astrophysicists Do?
Astrophysicists investigate the formation of stars, planets and galaxies using mathematics, computing and physics.
Many observational astrophysicists travel often to maximize the viewing time of various stellar events. Most astrophysicists also conduct research and testing of various types of scientific instruments and software. Analyzing data, applying statistics, plotting, logging, archiving, evaluating and reporting of results are all part of the astrophysicists work.
Many astrophysicists are also engaged in teaching at an observatory or university or museum to educate the public and other professionals. Professional writing and publishing is essential for most astrophysicists. Coordinating data from observations made by satellites, ground-based telescopes and calibrating sets of data are part of the regular routine. Astrophysicists use different theoretical models to align images and compare data. They are often the ones who develop the written procedures and standards for analyzing data sets.
What Do Qualifications Do Astrophysicists Need?
Patience is a valued personality trait for astrophysicists as much as curiosity and problem solving are. A professional astrophysicist needs a good background in astronomy and physics, mathematics and chemistry. Computer skills and art are both needed. The astrophysicist needs to work effectively as a member of a team in a scientific environment and have the skills to continue independent research along with skill in oral and written communication. Many astrophysicists exhibit passion for their work.
What Areas Do Astrophysicists Cover In Their Courses?
A solid science background at the undergraduate level prepares the future astrophysicist for in-depth graduate studies in applied mathematics and many of the disciplines of physics. Computational Astrophysics is essential for research.
Contemporary astronomical research involves various aspects of relativity, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical mechanics, nuclear and particle physics and atomic and molecular physics. Laboratory courses offer direct experience with a wide range of sophisticated scientific equipment and machinery as observatory tools.
What areas of specialization may astrophysicists choose?
The range of specialization is extensive and includes nearly all aspects of physics as it applies to astronomy. The study of these objects through passive collection of data is the goal of observational astrophysics.
Note: Most astrophysical observations are made using the electromagnetic spectrum.
Computational Astrophysics, Spectroscopy, Radio astronomy, theoretical astrophysics, astrodynamics and Infrared astronomy studies are all potential specialties. Astrophysicists study, not only the substance or matter of the universe, but also the energy and interactions of its parts. Ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma ray astronomy study energetic processes such as binary pulsars, black holes, magnetars, and more.
Where do astrophysicists work?
Astrophysicists work at observatories, universities, government agencies, institutes or corporations with special interests in space and technology.
Online ResourcesA Nasa Astrophysicist