What Is an Astrophysicist?

An astrophysicist is a scientist who studies the universe to understand how it was created, how it has evolved, what its various components are and how they work. Astrophysicists use the principles and laws of physics and calculus to explain the various phenomena they observe through telescopes and other instruments.

To become an astrophysicist, the first step is a bachelor's degree in physics. Usually, it is recommended for a candidate to double major in physics and astronomy, although it is not a requirement. Having a strong background in math, particularly calculus, is very useful and sought after in an astrophysicist. After completing college, most aspiring astrophysicists continue on to graduate school to earn a doctorate through research in astrophysics. An astrophysicist studies the observable universe and tries to use concepts in science and mathematics to understand the creation of the universe and how its various components work. For example, knowledge of gravity and how it works can help an astrophysicist explain how the solar system was formed or how a black hole works. Astrophysicists are also interested in how stars, such as the sun, were created and whether there are other stars in the universe that have planets that could support life. Many famous astrophysicists, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, help educate youth with the help of documentaries. Many more astrophysicists teach courses in universities in addition to their research to train future astrophysicists.