Current Research Programmes at Armagh Observatory
Throughout the nineteenth century the work at Armagh was primarily concerned with the measurement and cataloguing of the positions of stars, nebulae and galaxies. As our understanding of the physical nature of matter has progressed in this century the emphasis has shifted from positional astronomy to astrophysics.
In astrophysics, we attempt to relate the composition and structure of stars and galaxies to the basic physical processes we can study, theoretically and experimentally, on Earth. An example is the application of our knowledge of nuclear physics and the transmutation of elements, (e.g. H → He), to the structure of the Sun and stars. Sometimes, however, the procedure is reversed and we discover a basic law of physics by attempting to interpret astronomical observations. Such an example would be our understanding of the very dense matter which exists in white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes; states of matter which do not exist on Earth.
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