Pasachoff, Jay M. Hopkins Observatory, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:September 2021
- The composition of the Sun and stars
- Galaxies and the expansion of the universe
- Constituents of the universe
- The Sun as a celestial laboratory
- Astrophysics in non-visible light
- Astrophysics beyond light
- Cosmic rays
- Gravitational waves
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The study of the stars, galaxies, and other objects outside of the Solar System, with attention to physical causes. Astrophysics developed in the late 19th century, taking over from the mere mapping of positions of objects that had been the traditional form of astronomy. In the late 20th and early 21st century, the terms “astronomy” and “astrophysics” are often used interchangeably, though the latter places more emphasis on the mechanisms driving cosmic phenomena stemming from the bulk behavior of particles according to fundamental interactions. Examples of astrophysical investigations are the study of the physics powering supernovae explosions, as well as the mechanisms producing electromagnetic emissions from the environments of black holes (Fig. 1). See also: Astronomy; Elementary particle; Fundamental interaction; Physics
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