Introduction: Tools of the Trade

  • Charles Keeton
Part of the Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics book series (ULNP)


A concise way to state the scientific method in astrophysics is this: We use theory to make quantitative predictions that can be compared with observations. Sometimes we can solve the relevant equations with pencil and paper in a modest number of steps, but other times we cannot. How do we proceed? Often we can use physical insight and approximate calculations to understand the salient features of a system without sweating the details. Before diving into technical material, it is good to see how physical reasoning and estimation techniques (such as toy models, scaling relations, Taylor series approximations, and dimensional analysis) offer a potent approach to astrophysics.


Orbital Period Event Horizon Dimensional Analysis Blast Wave White Dwarf 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Keeton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA

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