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School Question

  1. May 10, 2004 #1
    For an astrophysics major, would it be beneficial to take on math as a minor? Also, are there any other minors that would be good for an astrophysics major?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2004 #2


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    Welcome to Physics Forums! Physics & math go hand-in-hand. But I'll let one of our resident astrophysicists/students offer their suggestions to you.

    I'm going to move this to the General Astronomy forum, where I think you'll get a better response.
  4. May 19, 2004 #3
    Ok, well if none of you are astrophysicists with a minor in math. Then what kinds of advanced math topics do you routinely use?
  5. May 20, 2004 #4
    It all depends what kind of astrophysics you want to do. If you want to do observational stuff, you probably don't need it. If you want to delve into the more exotic and theoretical areas, a background in abstract mathematics would be useful. If you want to take it to a level beyond undergraduate, I'd say definitely take it. However, I'm not sure what the difference between a major or minor is, or what the syllabus of a, I assume a US university, is.
  6. May 20, 2004 #5


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    If you plan to be a professional astronomer, you'll need the math experience...but you may get the relevant math from the astrophysics classes themselves. I highly recommend asking your professor/advisor. But I'm also hoping someone here can provide an answer too. Here's the academic experiences of a few professional astronomers...
    http://www.astronomycafe.net/guide/guide.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  7. May 20, 2004 #6


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    I don't know what constitutes a math minor, but it could be useful. As others have said, it depends on exactly what you're doing. If you want to do things with relativistic systems (including cosmology), then differential geometry and topology are helpful (though not essential). Other than that, you'll learn all the "pure math" you need in your physics courses.

    There are some topics in applied math that are more generally useful.Numerical analysis is probably good for everyone to know. Then there are more advanced differential equations courses, and stochastic PDE's. None of this is really necessary though.

    For most types of astro, I would concentrate on doing more astro and physics rather than bulking up on math. Its very important to be fluent all branches of physics, and to be able to work with all the little facts known about astronomical systems. Most real astro does not involve hardcore math. Its more about knowing a lot of little facts, and then making clever approximations based on them.
  8. May 20, 2004 #7
    Thanks for all the great responses guys. I will talk to an advisor, but I think I have a clearer version of what I should do now.
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