What Are The Contributions Of Chemistry To Astronomy?


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Shane Richardson Profile
Astronomy is the study of all the large-scale objects contained within space, such as planets, stars and asteroids, including our own planet, Earth.

Chemistry is the study of atoms, and the bonds which form between them. It plays a fundamental role within astronomy, which I'll expand upon in this answer.

The Chemical Composition of Objects in Space
Chemistry is essential to astronomy, since (in combination with techniques used in physics) it allows us to determine the chemical composition of distant celestial objects.

Using a technique known as spectroscopy, we are able to 'fingerprint' the light that reaches us from a star or planet, and work out which chemicals are present, all without even leaving the lab.

Analysing a profound astronomical object such as our own sun, also allows us to closely observe large-scale chemical reactions which could never safely take place on earth.

Whenever we use chemistry techniques to analyse the chemical composition of our own planet, we are also making a contribution to astronomy, since the Earth is itself within the field of study of astronomy.

Whenever asteroids fall to earth and enough matter survives, we are able to analyse them using chemistry, to find out more about the rest of the universe. We have also managed to retrieve a small number of samples from the moon, which have also been analysed in a similar fashion.

The Search For Extra-Terrestrial Life
By drawing upon our understanding of our own planet - and the systems within it which make life as we understand it possible - we are able to extend our search for life into the greater universe. Using the techniques described above, we can seek out planets, which might be capable of supporting life, according to our definition.

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