# Graphing data in a lab- astrophysics

• Emily R.
In summary, the user attempted to plot the experimental orbital periods against the actual ones, but that didn't work very well. They suggested plotting the error of the simulation on the y-axis instead, and if they did that, they would need to pick one variable as the x-coordinate and plot a separate curve for each value of the other.
Emily R.

## Homework Statement

Hello! So, I recently did an experiment where I altered the eccentricity and distance from the sun of a planet orbiting around the Sun in a simulation and measured how long it took the planet to complete a single orbit. With this data, I compared my experimental data with the actual orbital period of each planet in the Solar System. I tested the eccentricity and distance of the sun for each planet so I was using actual values and essentially seeing how each planet's orbit differed between a simulation and real life.

I'm writing up a lab report, but the problem is, I'm not sure what kind of graph to make for my data. I recently thought of creating two graphs, where eccentricity or distance from the Sun would be on the x-axis and orbital period could be on the y-axis. Would that be a good way to graph my data? Or is there a better way to do so?

## Homework Equations

Some of Kepler's laws are relevant here, but I didn't use them in my experiment.

## The Attempt at a Solution

I originally attempted to graph the experimental orbital periods against the actual ones, but that didn't work very well. I posted this thread a few minutes ago and, before it was deleted due to my not using the template, one user (@haruspex ) suggested making a graph with the error of the simulation on the y-axis. If I were to do that, what would I put on the x-axis?

Emily R. said:
I originally attempted to graph the experimental orbital periods against the actual ones, but that didn't work very well. I posted this thread a few minutes ago and, before it was deleted due to my not using the template, one user (@haruspex ) suggested making a graph with the error of the simulation on the y-axis. If I were to do that, what would I put on the x-axis?
I did answer that too. To plot against two free variables, a common method is to pick one variable as the x coordinate and plot a separate curve (on the same chart) for each value of the other. If one variable takes relatively few values and they are equally spaced, that is a good candidate for the per-curve variable.

haruspex said:
I did answer that too. To plot against two free variables, a common method is to pick one variable as the x coordinate and plot a separate curve (on the same chart) for each value of the other. If one variable takes relatively few values and they are equally spaced, that is a good candidate for the per-curve variable.

Thank you very much!

## What is the purpose of graphing data in a lab for astrophysics?

The purpose of graphing data in a lab for astrophysics is to visually represent the data collected during experiments or observations. This allows scientists to easily analyze and interpret the data, identify patterns or trends, and make conclusions about the phenomena being studied.

## What types of graphs are commonly used in astrophysics labs?

The most commonly used graphs in astrophysics labs are line graphs, scatter plots, and bar graphs. Line graphs are used to show changes in data over time, scatter plots are used to demonstrate relationships between two variables, and bar graphs are used to compare data from different categories.

## How do you choose the appropriate scale for a graph in astrophysics?

The appropriate scale for a graph in astrophysics depends on the range and precision of the data being plotted. It is important to choose a scale that clearly shows the data, but also allows for easy comparison and identification of patterns or trends. If the data has a large range, a logarithmic scale may be more appropriate.

## What are some common mistakes to avoid when graphing data in an astrophysics lab?

Some common mistakes to avoid when graphing data in an astrophysics lab include using the wrong type of graph for the data, not labeling the axes and units clearly, and not including a title or legend to explain the graph. It is also important to avoid distorting the data by manipulating the scale or choosing inappropriate intervals.

## How can graphing data in a lab help in the discovery of new astronomical phenomena?

Graphing data in a lab can help in the discovery of new astronomical phenomena by allowing scientists to identify patterns or anomalies in the data that may lead to new insights or discoveries. Graphs can also help in visualizing and understanding complex data sets, allowing for the development of new theories or hypotheses about the nature of the universe.

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