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Astronomy research question. Thanks

  1. Sep 27, 2010 #1
    Astronomy "research" question. Thanks

    I am doing a study on research ideas for astronomy.

    This might be hard to explain what I am asking for, but ill try my best :)

    Basically, I am asking you all for ideas that a graduate or any student can research. Mainly things that have yet to be full researched in astronomy.

    Things that can be researched without the access to millions of dollars worth of equip. ?

    Does this make any sense? :)
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  3. Sep 27, 2010 #2
    Re: Astronomy "research" question. Thanks

    It's going to be extremely difficult to find an astronomical research topic that hasn't already been investigated or doesn't cost millions of dollars.

    I can't think of a single thing that wouldn't require a good amount of computer equipment and an observatory.

    Using an amateur telescope would get you decent views of deep space objects. But it's not as if you'd gather enough data to thoroughly analyze the objects characteristics.

    It might be possible to do some sort of research on the moon. The moon, while basically spherical, has an uneven mass distribution for a number of reasons. I don't want to ruin it for you. So you might be able to do research on the mass distribution within the moon. It is very interesting stuff.
  4. Sep 27, 2010 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Re: Astronomy "research" question. Thanks

    Your best shot is to use someone else's million dollar equipment. For example, the EGRET data from the Compton GRO satellite is - or at least was - available on CD-ROM. Of course, you would need to figure out something to do with it that hasn't been done before.
  5. Sep 27, 2010 #4
    Re: Astronomy "research" question. Thanks

    A lot of observatories (whether they are visual or radio telescopes) allow outsiders to use the facility if they submit an explanation of their research and it is of enough scientific weight that it justifies the use of the facility.

    I'm not sure how much it would cost or if it costs anything at all. You might want to call specific facilities and ask them.
  6. Sep 27, 2010 #5
    Re: Astronomy "research" question. Thanks

    Hey, GREAT response, thanks guys!

    mkarger: How does something find something to research? Where do you start? I know you cant just come up with something and test it, but how do research/graduate students pick something to try to make it a law/theory, or just something to discover that has not been done before.

    Again, much thanks!
  7. Sep 27, 2010 #6


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    Re: Astronomy "research" question. Thanks

    My collaborators and I published a peer-reviewed paper on apparently-interacting galaxies of a specific type (M51 archetype). We had no telescope time, nor access to new research. We mined multi-band schmidt survey images from CalTech's IRSA database used SDSS images when possible, pored through existing catalogs, and used NED and HyperLeda data for our redshift, angular size data, etc. If you are willing to ask some questions AND put in an incredible amount of diligent effort to mine publicly-available data, you can publish worthwhile, relevant research.

    We have more work to do, and more papers to submit in the future.
  8. Sep 27, 2010 #7
    Re: Astronomy "research" question. Thanks

    I don't think that a lot of scientists go out into the field with the mindset that they want to solidify a theory or prove a law. I think it would be hard to even conceive a law until it is discovered (through mathematics or physical observation) and tested many times. It might even be possible that more research is done to falsify claims than is done to prove ones claims. But I could be wrong.

    I assume that, since you are a graduate student, you have emphasized your studies in one particular topic? Have you ever done research with any of your professors? If you have, since you already have experience with that topic, you could do further research on a subtopic.

    I've never had to do research because I'm basically a sophomore undergrad. I'll get more hands on experience in the coming months. But I don't have any stories to tell about funded research or other studies.
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