History of Astrophysics

History of astronomy is being recorded since ancient times.

Studies of terrestrial physics have been always separated from the field of astronomy. Aristotelian world view is an important concept related to astrophysics. According to which, bodies floating in the sky are unchanging spheres. Motion of these unchanging spheres are uniform motion is circle. On the other hand, the objects belong to earthly realm were recorded to went through growth and decay. Natural motion of these objects was not in circle. Instead, it was in the form of a straight line. This motion tends to end whenever its relative moving object reaches to its final goal. Eventually, it was also discovered that the celestial region holding these objects was fundamentally formed of a differed kind of matter. Discovery of this kind of matter eventually lead to foundation of terrestrial sphere. For instance, it was discovered that Plato is maintaining the fire and Aristotle is maintaining the Aether.

In 17th century, many natural philosophers such as Galileo, Descartes and Newton put their efforts in order to discover that the regions of celestial and terrestrial are formed by similar category of material. They also found that same natural laws are applied on both of these regions. However, they soon faced challenges in order to prove their assertions practically. They were lacking the tools that could prove their assertions in practical manner. Although these tools are available today, they had not been developed in that era which was giving whole a lot of troubles towards the researchers of this field.

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Throughout the nineteenth century, most of the astronomical research was dedicated to measure and compute the positions and motions of various astronomical objects. In the same era, William Hyde Wollaston and Joseph von Fraunhofer invested their efforts and tried to decompose the light of sun. They managed to discover a region that was formed as a result to multitude of dark lines in spectrum. This region has very less or no sun light. This discovery gave birth to a new stream or branch of astronomy that is now known as astrophysics.

By the 1860, famous physicist and chemist Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen made some fascinating discoveries and established new foundations. They observed that dark lines that are present in solar spectrum are strongly related to bright lines. They demonstrated that bright lines are present in spectra of known gases. They also described that some unique line among these lines are strongly correspond to a specific chemical elements or unique group of elements. Kirchhoff discovered that absorption caused due to chemical elements in solar atmosphere results as dark lines. This foundation eventually proved that elements present on Sun and other similar stars are also present on earth.

Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: Astrophysics.