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University Degree: Astronomy

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  1. Exploring the Variable Luminosity of Star Systems.

    Although not obvious, studying variable stars can often have other significant contributions to other fields. The purpose of this piece is to hopefully explore why the luminosity varies and also how understanding these variations can be used in other areas. Though certain variable stars differ in their behaviour, to 'regular' stars, they are still stars. This means that how they evolve in their lifetime is very similar to that of other stars (of similar mass). Although the situations may vary, the laws of physics, throughout the Universe, remain constant; and so understanding them becomes a test of mankind's grasp of the fundamental laws of physics.

    • Word count: 5776
  2. Black Holes

    Furthermore, theories associated with black holes will be introduced later on this coursework to collect general ideas of what would happen if we were to fall into the black hole. These will be interesting to analyse as black holes are only known theoretically and because not many people are aware of what black holes are capable of. In addition, I will be using different sources to gather a variety of information about black holes such as Internet, articles from magazines and books so that I don't just entirely rely on one source and the purpose of it is to make this coursework more interesting and reliable.

    • Word count: 5615
  3. Insolation refers to the deposition of radiant energy as heat into an absorbing body. Discuss

    Let a planet have obliquity and the Sun have longitude and right ascension as viewed from the planet. From celestial to equatorial coordinate transformation, (1) where is the Sun 's declination. In general, the longitude of the sun will not be zero at the vernal equinox , but will be offset by an angle . perihelion for the earth, for example, occurs in January, while the vernal equinox is not until March.

    • Word count: 288
  4. I am writing about a scientific book called 'The Guide To The Galaxy' by Nigel Henbest and Heather Couper

    the thirsty infant Hercules', while the North Americans thought of it as a route of ghosts on their way to the 'land of the hereafter'. The Eskimos saw it as a guide to travellers. The chapter then talks about some scientists like Galileo Galilei and his efforts in inventing the telescope, which took our knowledge of the galaxy into a whole new level. The theory of 'Universal Gravitation' by Isaac Newton and the 'New Hypothesis of the Universe' by Thomas Wright were discussed briefly. The book also mentions the work by Immanuel Kant, William Herschel, Lord Rosse and many others.

    • Word count: 1059
  5. The aim of this project is to investigate current theories and experimental data which give an indication of three fates of the universe

    Dark energy changes that: Depending upon the amount and nature of the dark energy, a supercritical universe can expand forever and a sub-critical universe can recollapse, or be balanced! Open universe. The most lonely and unappealing fate of the universe is dominated by the so-called cosmological constant. As the universe's expansion increases galaxies move further away from each other. Beyond a certain distance (the horizon) the relative velocity which is proportional to their distance (Hubble's law) will become greater than the speed of light.

    • Word count: 4447
  6. Black Holes.

    The force of gravity then takes over and forces the matter left in the star towards one point. As the star contracts the core heats up and helium fusion takes over, and the elements created get heavier and heavier until the core is made of iron. It then is so tightly packed the protons and electrons merge to form a neutron core, which is under extremely high pressure from the outer envelopes and extreme heat. The consequence of this is a supernova, the core blows out the outer envelopes, and the result is a neutron star or a black hole.

    • Word count: 1805
  7. Black Holes - Do they exist and if so what effect could they have on us?

    The first ideas were put forward in 1783 by Reverend John Michell where he talked of how "light could not escape from a star of the same mean density as the Sun but 500 times bigger". These first ideas on Black Holes were based around speculations about Black Holes hinged on ideas about the nature of light. By the end of the 17th century it was known that light travelled through space at a great speed. Then in 1965 Ole Romer made one of the first estimates at the speed of light after studying the path of one of Jupiter's moons.

    • Word count: 2668
  8. Is there life Elsewhere?

    The second theory states that comets hit the Earth and evaporated into water. The most logical thought is to combine both theories to explain the origin of water on our planet. However, there are conditions to have and keep this water. The water produced must have been of large quantities, mostly of liquid form and migrated to the surface. Also, it must not have been lost in space. The Earth�s gravity was able to ensure that our atmosphere would hold back the water vapor so that it does not escape us.

    • Word count: 1898
  9. Is There Any Life Elsewhere?

    The search for water is key to looking for life else where in the solar system. As it is believed that water is the main ingredient of life. When scientists say that they have discovered water elsewhere in the galaxy, they do not mean that have found seas of H2O, they mean that water is present but probably not is the situation that we know it. The findings in the above paragraph are a good example, the planets that are suspected to have water are Gas Giants. Therefore the water is probably in gaseous form mixed with Hydrogen and Helium and other gases found in the atmospheres of gas giants.

    • Word count: 1661
  10. Know caves in the United States.

    Even though it is a dead cave, it still has a lot of color inside the cave. In 1974, more than 670,000 people visited Carlsbad Caverns. Caves seem to be a natural wonder to many visitors. Caves have natural openings in the ground that lead deep into the body of the cave. These openings are called sinkholes, which are funnel-shaped structures that are the entrances to the caves. Caves remain at a constant temperature of 60 degrees all year round.

    • Word count: 1149
  11. Life on Mars.

    Data from Mars Global Surveyor indicates Mars' crust is about 80km thick in the Southern Hemisphere but it is only 35km thick in the Northern Hemisphere. Mars' low density suggests that te core is made up of large amounts of sulphur and iron. Is Water needed for life to exist? We have always been fascinated with the Red Planet, and we've wondered-in science fiction, in classrooms, in living rooms, and in laboratories-if anything lives there. Water is the key to many important scientific questions when dealing with Mars.

    • Word count: 1637
  12. Describe techniques that are currently being used to detect extrasolar planets and methods that could be used in the next decade or two to try and determine the atmospheric composition of these planets.

    As the planet orbits the star, it will pull at it from different sides. If the star is watched for a very long time, the net effect of this gravitational pull is a slight wobble in the stars position. The amplitude of the "wobble" depends on the orbital distance of the planet (ap) and the mass of the two bodies (m* and mp), as shown in the equation below: Radial Velocity = 30mpsini 0.5apm* There are two basic methods of seeing this gravitational effect: * Astrometric * Radial velocity detection Astrometric detection: as a planet orbits a star, it exerts a gravitational pull on the star.

    • Word count: 1054
  13. What is a Black Hole?

    Astronomers also suspect that other galaxies may harbour extremely massive black holes at their centres. These are thought to weigh about a million times as much as the Sun, or 1x1036 kilograms. The more massive a black hole is the more space it takes up. In fact, the if one black hole weighs ten times as much as another, its radius is ten times as large. A black hole with a mass equal to that of the Sun would have a radius of 3 kilometres.

    • Word count: 2048
  14. Black holes

    At this part of a black hole the gravity is so intense that it tugs at time and space, causing space to slow down and stretch out. Here not even light can escape this intense gravity. Any body that comes near a black hole would firstly be ripped apart by the immense gravitational force and then upon reaching the event horizon the body would never be seen again and is thought to go irreversibly towards singularity, thus become infinitely more dense.

    • Word count: 1080
  15. Black Holes and the Origin of the Universe.

    An eyesore really.) BLACK HOLES Put simply, a black hole is a region of space that has so much mass concentrated in it that there is no way for a nearby object to escape its gravitational pull, not even light. To explain this more simply, imagine earth as it is. It has a gravitational field that is strong enough to prevent us from drifting into space and holds the moon in orbit. If you throw a rock up, it will come back down because there is a gravitational pull.

    • Word count: 1532
  16. Alien Contact

    About half of those billion stars, also have planets-the most important single requirement for developing life, Professor Archibald Roy thinks so. Astronomers hope that many of these planets will be surrounded be organic 'fog' containing DNA-like molecules which could be the key to life itself. In the late fifties, the Chinese-born astrophysicist Su-Shu Huang of Northwestern University, Illinois, described the types of conditions in which life could exist beyond our galaxy. It should be neither too hot, so that water would evaporate, nor too cold, sot that it would be permanently frozen.

    • Word count: 559
  17. The Big Bang Theory

    The exact nature of this big bang explosion may never be known. However there have been some theoretical breakthroughs, based on the principles of the "Quantum theory". It is believed that before the universe began it was full of random actions creating a chaos, which is referred too as "Quantum weirdness", it is believed that at some point in the randomness a small bubble was formed with an temperature in excess of 10 to the power of 34 degrees.

    • Word count: 572
  18. What is a black hole? What is the evidence that black holes actually exist, and where in the Universe do we find evidence of their existence?

    Smaller stars which are not large enough become dense neutron stars. These stars are unable to create gravitation fields to trap light because they are not large enough. Because there is no outward force that acts to repel these overwhelming gravitational forces, the remnant collapses on itself. This directly results in stage where the star reaches a null volume and infinite density, a singularity is also produced, which is just when the quantity used to measure gravitational fields becomes infinite.

    • Word count: 1751

"To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit."

- Stephen Hawking

If you are fascinated by the universe that engulfs our blue-green spheroid, and you sometimes find yourself daydreaming about the Oort Cloud, then a university degree in astronomy could be a perfect fit for you. You can study astronomy on its own, in combination with another subject like physics, or as part of an astrophysics course.

In astronomy as with all of the physical sciences, good written communication skills will enhance your marks. If you need a bit of help, consult Marked by Teachers collection of student-submitted astronomy and physics essays. Studying from real marked examples will give you all the tools you need to criticise and edit your own work: before long, your writing will be almost as brilliant as an ancient quasar.

Students of astronomy can expect to stay in the field by means of teaching and research, or to pursue careers in other areas, including finance, computing and marketing.


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