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Disciplines that Help Astronomers

According to the infamous astronomer Carl Sagan, astronomy is the study of everything. Besides peering into the sky with a telescope, an astronomer has to learn and dabble in other fields, such as geography. It is not uncommon for an astronomer to study chemistry, physics, seismology, biology, meteorology, computer science and quantum physics. In this article, you will learn the different fields that make astronomers more equipped to explore outer space.

By studying other disciplines, astronomers can better understand the characteristics of other planets, such as the atmospheres of Venus and Mars, cloud formations on Saturn and Jupiter, as well as Titan , Saturn’s moon. Below you will encounter the kind of knowledge that allows astronomers make senses of the unknown:

Paleontology

Astronomers who are knowledgeable in the study of ancient rock formations are better equipped to understand the rock structures and ancient riverbeds found on Mars.

Geography

With the study of land mass formation and craters, an astronomer can better analyze the meteorite impacts found on other planets and moons. The evolution of the crust regarding terrestrial planets becomes much clearer. When volcanoes and other land mass motions take place, an astronomer who has studied volcanism and plate tectonics can better assess data.

Chemistry

Without chemistry, astronomers would be at a loss when it came time to assess the chemical composition of space dust, planets, stars, and other entities of outer space. By studying the variations of elements (referred to as isotopes) can assist astronomers in creating a timeline centered on chemical evolutions of planets and stars.

Biology

Some astronomers combine their knowledge of outer space with biology to enter a relatively new field known as astrobiology. Astronomers use important pieces of evidence to prove one of the major moons of Jupiter (Europa) contains liquid water. An increasing amount of information is surfacing in regards to evidence of previous liquid water on Mars and the discovery of extremophiles found in the deep oceans of Earth. Other topics of interest include the oceans under the icy sheet of Europa or the primordial atmosphere associated with Titan. Significant data includes:

·    The Hubble Space Telescope detected the presence of a rather thin atmosphere with oxygen.

·    Thick ice in the formation of islands is comparable to the polar caps of Earth.

·    Surface cracks on Europa are attributed to warmer liquid found underneath.

·    Active geology is assumed because there is a lack of meteorite impact craters.

Seismology

Astronomers who study seismology usually take a look at the Sun and other stars that have shown seismic vibrations. By becoming familiar with the earthquake phenomenon on Earth, astronomers are able to learn why and how the phenomenon takes place in outer space.