# How Should Null Results Be Reported in an Astrophysics Lab Report?

• Emily R.
In summary, the conversation was about a student's lab report on an experiment testing the effects of planetary characteristics on a planet's orbital period. The student found that mass and eccentricity had little effect, while distance from the Sun did. The student was unsure whether to include their investigation on eccentricity and mass in the report and if they should have data tables for those variables. They also questioned if they should mention them in the conclusion. The student had three hypotheses and mentioned everything in the conclusion, but did not include a data table for mass and eccentricity. The expert suggests including the null result for mass and eccentricity and considering the exact expressions for orbital period, which involve the planet mass but have a small effect.
Emily R.

## Homework Statement

I'm writing a lab report about an experiment I did where I essentially tested the effects of various planetary characteristics on a planet's orbital period. The planetary characteristics that I tested where eccentricity, mass, and distance from the Sun (or semi-major axis). As you might imagine, I found that mass and eccentricity had virtually no effect when I changed them in the simulation I was using, but distance from the Sun did have an effect. I didn't know before I did this lab that mass and eccentricity would have no effect.

Should I write the lab report including my investigation about the eccentricity and mass, or should I write it as if I only tested distance from the Sun? I'm worried that if I include testing eccentricity and mass, it may be confusing. Specifically, if I did include them, would I have three hypotheses, one for each variable? If I don't include them, should I still mention them in my conclusion? We're supposed to write about what we learned, and I did learn that eccentricity and mass had little effect on orbital period. Should I have data tables for mass and eccentricity if they had no effect/do I need them if I make the report about testing all three?

Sorry, I hope this isn't too confusing.

## Homework Equations

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

## The Attempt at a Solution

So far, I've been writing it kind of as a mix between the two. I have three hypotheses, I mentioned everything in the conclusion, but I didn't include a data table with data from testing mass and eccentricity. I also didn't mention mass and eccentricity in the method.

Write down what you tested. The null result for mass and eccentricity is still relevant.

Why did you do an experiment? There are exact expressions for the orbital period. The planet mass does enter those formulas, but it is added to the mass of the sun, so the effect is small.

## 1. What is the purpose of a lab report in astrophysics?

A lab report in astrophysics is a written record of an experiment or observation that was conducted in order to test a hypothesis or gather data about a specific phenomenon in the field of astrophysics. It is used to document and communicate the details of the experiment or observation, the results obtained, and the conclusions drawn from those results.

## 2. How should a lab report in astrophysics be structured?

A lab report in astrophysics typically follows a standard structure, including an abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. The abstract provides a brief overview of the experiment or observation and its results, while the introduction provides background information and the purpose of the study. The methodology section explains the procedures used, the results section presents the data collected, the discussion section analyzes and interprets the results, and the conclusion summarizes the main findings and their significance.

## 3. What should be included in the methodology section of a lab report in astrophysics?

The methodology section of a lab report in astrophysics should include a detailed description of the materials and equipment used, the procedures followed, and any relevant calculations or equations used in the experiment or observation. It should also include any limitations or sources of error that may have affected the results.

## 4. How can I ensure the accuracy and reliability of my lab report in astrophysics?

To ensure the accuracy and reliability of a lab report in astrophysics, it is important to carefully plan and conduct the experiment or observation, use precise and accurate measurements, and repeat the experiment multiple times to verify the results. It is also important to properly document and analyze the data, and to acknowledge any potential sources of error or bias.

## 5. Are there any specific guidelines for formatting a lab report in astrophysics?

Many scientific journals and institutions have specific guidelines for formatting lab reports in astrophysics. These may include font and margin requirements, citation style, and specific sections or headings that must be included. It is important to follow these guidelines carefully to ensure that your lab report meets the required standards for publication or evaluation.

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