Astrophysics is the branch of physics that studies phenomena on large scales: the sun, the planets, the stars, the galaxies, the matter and energy that are between them, and the universe as a whole.
Astrophysical research requires familiarity and use of all branches of physics: high-energy, nuclear, atomic, and condensed-matter physics, thermodynamics and hydrodynamics, special and general relativity, to name only some.
The broad aim of astrophysics is to see what the universe is made of, to understand how physical processes have made it the way it is, and to explain how it works and what will be its future evolution. Some examples include: (i) the geometry of space-time and the components of the universe -- radiation, normal matter, dark matter, and dark energy; (ii) the formation of the first stars and structures after the Big Bang; (iii) black holes of all scales and their role in the formation and development of galaxies; stellar evolution, cosmic explosions, compact stellar remnants, and their contributions to element production, and to the creation and acceleration of high-energy cosmic particles; (iv) interstellar processes, including the formation of complex molecules, dust particles, and stars; and (v) the discovery and understanding of planets, their properties and habitability to life, their formation and destruction.
In all of these fields, observational and theoretical astrophysicists work closely together. Observers at TAU use a large array of modern facilities, on the ground and in space, to observe the sky at all wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. These include the latest generation of giant optical and near-infrared telescopes, as well as specialized mid-infrared and millimeter-wave facilities, in Hawaii, Chile, and Europe; space telescopes including Hubble, Spitzer, Herschel, Chandra, Kepler, Swift, and Fermi, spanning infrared to gamma-ray energies; and the telescopes at TAU's Wise Observatory in Mitspe Ramon, whose global position makes it a unique tool for studying time-domain astronomical phenomena.
Theorists at TAU use the whole range of tools to interpret and understand astrophysical phenomena. These include analytic calculations and massively parallel numerical computations.
These two connected approaches have been leading to the huge progress of recent years in understanding the physical universe.
Head of the Astrophysics Department: Prof. Ehud Nakar