Astronomy - Theoretical Astronomy

Theoretical Astronomy

  • Stellar nucleosynthesis
  • Big Bang nucleosynthesis
  • Supernova nucleosynthesis
  • Cosmic ray spallation
Related topics
  • Astrophysics
  • Nuclear fusion
  • Nuclear fission

Theoretical astronomers use a wide variety of tools which include analytical models (for example, polytropes to approximate the behaviors of a star) and computational numerical simulations. Each has some advantages. Analytical models of a process are generally better for giving insight into the heart of what is going on. Numerical models can reveal the existence of phenomena and effects that would otherwise not be seen.

Theorists in astronomy endeavor to create theoretical models and figure out the observational consequences of those models. This helps observers look for data that can refute a model or help in choosing between several alternate or conflicting models.

Theorists also try to generate or modify models to take into account new data. In the case of an inconsistency, the general tendency is to try to make minimal modifications to the model to fit the data. In some cases, a large amount of inconsistent data over time may lead to total abandonment of a model.

Topics studied by theoretical astronomers include: stellar dynamics and evolution; galaxy formation; large-scale structure of matter in the Universe; origin of cosmic rays; general relativity and physical cosmology, including string cosmology and astroparticle physics. Astrophysical relativity serves as a tool to gauge the properties of large scale structures for which gravitation plays a significant role in physical phenomena investigated and as the basis for black hole (astro)physics and the study of gravitational waves.

Some widely accepted and studied theories and models in astronomy, now included in the Lambda-CDM model are the Big Bang, Cosmic inflation, dark matter, and fundamental theories of physics.

A few examples of this process:

Physical process Experimental tool Theoretical model Explains/predicts
Gravitation Radio telescopes Self-gravitating system Emergence of a star system
Nuclear fusion Spectroscopy Stellar evolution How the stars shine and how metals formed
The Big Bang Hubble Space Telescope, COBE Expanding universe Age of the Universe
Quantum fluctuations Cosmic inflation Flatness problem
Gravitational collapse X-ray astronomy General relativity Black holes at the center of Andromeda galaxy
CNO cycle in stars The dominant source of energy for massive star.

Dark matter and dark energy are the current leading topics in astronomy, as their discovery and controversy originated during the study of the galaxies.

Read more about this topic:  Astronomy

Famous quotes containing the words astronomy and/or theoretical:

    It is noticed, that the consideration of the great periods and spaces of astronomy induces a dignity of mind, and an indifference to death.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    There are theoretical reformers at all times, and all the world over, living on anticipation.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)