Why Astronomy and Astrophysics?

Astronomers get to map strange new worlds: The first global map of a Brown Dwarf Zoom Image
Astronomers get to map strange new worlds: The first global map of a Brown Dwarf

Planets, stars, galaxies, and the Universe intrigue all of us. How did they form? How do they function? What is their destiny? Astronomy, the science of the universe, is both one of the oldest and one of the most rapidly progressing sciences. Innovative technology and instrumentation, considerable advances in computing and theory, and fundamental new discoveries continue to change and shape our understanding of the cosmos, its origin, and evolution.


Furthermore, astronomy and astrophysics are an important part of modern physics. Astronomy allows us to study processes that cannot be reproduced in the laboratory: the highest temperatures, the best vacuum, the highest densities, the strongest gravitational fields.

Important questions asked by today's astronomers include:

  • Will the universe expand forever?
  • What does dark matter consist of?
  • How did galaxies form after the Big Bang?
  • How do the black holes at the centers of the galaxies function?
  • How do stars and planets form?
  • What are the properties of planets around other stars?

To address these questions, modern astronomy and astrophysics rely on the interplay of theory, observations, and innovative instrumentation. All of these areas offer opportunities for student involvement in cutting-edge research.

Next: Why Heidelberg?

 
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