What is it like to study astrophysics
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What is astrophysics?
Astrophysics is a branch of physics. In the early days of this very old natural science, the term astronomy was initially coined. Nowadays, astrophysics and astronomy are practically used interchangeably. The distinction between astronomy and astrophysics is primarily historical and is almost irrelevant today.
In general, astrophysics is about the exploration of space, its formation and development and its physical laws. The individual topics and research fields are as diverse as the phenomena and processes in the cosmos itself: For example, celestial bodies such as stars and planets, but also entire galaxies or huge cosmological structures are researched. Solar winds, the behavior of gases, magnetic fields, gravitational waves, black holes, astroparticle physics and many other research fields also belong to the spectrum of this discipline.
There are different approaches in astrophysics: On the one hand, the sky is observed with a wide variety of instruments. These observations are then compared with physical-mathematical models. With elaborate calculations on supercomputers, astronomers can simulate the development of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day. In addition, the researchers use analytical-theoretical models to make predictions about physical conditions and processes in the various components of the universe and their interactions.
Introduction to the subject: astrophysics during studies
Since astrophysics is a specialty of physics, you first need a broad scientific basis, usually in physics or mathematics. Astrophysics is therefore not offered as an independent bachelor's degree in Germany, but as a master's degree in "Astrophysics" or "Astronomy".
Astrophysics in the bachelor's degree in physics
Some German universities offer astrophysics or astronomy as part or specialization within the physics course. At the University of Potsdam, astrophysics is already introduced in the bachelor's degree in physics. Specialization in astrophysics is then possible in the course of the course. In addition to courses, this specialization also includes the astronomical internship and the bachelor's thesis in the field of astrophysics.
Astrophysics in the master’s degree
In Potsdam there are two ways to continue studying astrophysics: you can really immerse yourself in the subject in the master’s course in Astrophysics. This English-language course is international and strongly research-oriented. Alternatively, astrophysics is also possible as an optional specialization area within the consecutive Master’s course in physics.
Fields of activity
Studying astrophysics qualifies you for a whole range of professional fields. Many graduates choose the path of an academic career and work at a university or non-university research institution in Germany or abroad. Potsdam offers an excellent working environment due to the research strength of the Astrophysics Network and the international integration of the four institutes.
As an alternative to a research career, astrophysicists also work in industry, for example in the development of materials, machines or instruments - not infrequently in microelectronics or the optical industry. Their scientific education and their mathematical and physical knowledge make them attractive for many employers in the private sector, especially in the high-tech industry and software development.
The analytical skills acquired during the course also enable you to work outside of industry, for example in consulting firms or in science journalism. The confident use of the English language also opens doors abroad.
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