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Astrophysicists and their use of physics in their studies?

  1. Nov 15, 2015 #1
    I am writing a paragraph on astrophysicists. I want to incorporate a connection between the physics that we are learning and an astrophysicist's use of the same principles in their studies. Unfortunately, there is not much information about this on the internet.

    What I have found is that Newton's universal law of gravitation is used to study star clusters, galaxies and the solar system.

    I need more examples like the one above. How are things such as Newton's laws of motion and other physics principles used to help astrophysicists in their work?

    Thank you in advance!
    (PS wasn't sure what forum to put this question in since I wouldn't be following the "homework help" template, I apologize if it's in the wrong one!)
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2015 #2
    I'm not a scientist nor do I have formal education in science, however I will give this a shot. From memory Joseph Fraunhofer was the first to use Spectroscopy to determine the materials that objects in space are composed of. I believe this method is still used today.
  4. Nov 20, 2015 #3
    Yes Newton's mechanics is a good theory for gravity, it fits observation mostly.
    Einstein's relativity is an even better theory because it explains some weird stuff that Newton does not, like the orbit of Mercury.
  5. Nov 20, 2015 #4

    Newton's laws of motion are used to predict the future locations of heavenly bodies.

    The other thing to look up is spectroscopy.

    Physics is used to try to figure out what is going on in heavenly bodies based on the data that astronomers collect. Collecting data is astronomy, analyzing uses physics. The two together are called astrophysics.
  6. Nov 21, 2015 #5
    Actually, there is quite a lot of information about this on the Internet, if you know what you are looking for. For example;
    • Josef Stefan and Ludwig Boltzmann gave us the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, which is used to determine the surface temperature of black bodies. Which is useful in everything from calculating the snow line in any given solar system, or estimating the "habitable zone" of solar systems, to determining the approximate mean surface temperature of planets. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan–Boltzmann_law
    The list of astrophysicists and their contributions is quite extensive. One could write a book about the notable scientists and their contributions to space and astronomy. In fact, someone already has. A 322 page volume by Deborah Todd and Joseph A. Angelo, Jr. entitled "A to Z of Scientists in Space and Astronomy (Notable Scientists)". ISBN-10: 0816046395, ISBN-13: 978-0816046393
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