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How Do Astronomers Study How Things Evolve?

7 Sep 2014, 11:43 UTC
How Do Astronomers Study How Things Evolve?
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Question: We know that stars and galaxies we see are just fossil light as they were millions or billions of years ago. Is it possible to extrapolate the changes that we see today in those galaxies to determine their current state? – Vinod
Answer: In a way, yes. Since, as you point out, we see what amounts to the “fossil light” from stars and galaxies in the universe, we can piece-together how things evolve with time by sampling various times within this fossil record to study the evolution of these stars and galaxies. Note also that the timescales for the evolution of objects in the universe are, with few exceptions, much longer than a human lifetime, or even the total historical record of scientific measurements. This means that astronomers must study the evolution of just about every object in the universe by sampling its evolutionary state at different times in the cosmological record.
Jeff Mangum

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