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How Much difference b2in theoritical and experimental astrophysics?

  1. Nov 4, 2007 #1
    Can you tell me How Much is the difference between theoritical and experimental astrophysics?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2007 #2
    I'm not familiar with the term "experimental astrophysics." I'm under the impression that we cannot experiment with astrophysical objects, and therefore that field doesn't exist. We can't touch or manipulate the stars. Does someone else know more about this?

    I can tell you some differences between a theoretical and an observational astrophysicist. Both work together very closely, and in some cases, their work overlaps.

    Theoretical astrophysicists develop mathematical theories and models to attempt to explain what we have seen or predict what we expect to see. If data exists, a theorists' job is to explain the observed data using physical processes. Why does these data look the way they look? What physics can explain how these data came into being? Can computer simulations be developed to match what we think is going on? Can we predict what we should observed based on this physical model?

    Observational astrophysicists acquire the data. This includes running ground- and space-based telescopes and detectors. What are the errors in the data, and what observing techniques can be improved? Observationalists also process and analyze the data, taking note of what they see and comparing it to the current theories and models. How closely does the data match the theory, or are the models way off? Have we observed what we expect to observe, or do we see something unexpected? What physical processes would explain what we do see? Can we make any empirical statements?
     
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