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Astrophysicists tend to study the nature and properties of astronomical objects such as planets, galaxies, stars, black holes, and pulsars, making the subject both broad and central to our understanding of the universe. The field of astrophysics examines these bodies' emissions throughout the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The subject itself can be broken down into categories based on parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as radio astronomy, ultraviolet astronomy, and infrared astronomy. Astrophysicists are involved in cutting-edge research designed to investigate phenomena like dark matter, the cosmic microwave background, galaxy formation, and extrasolar planetary systems.
The roots of astrophysics began around the 17th century. Natural philosophers such as Galileo, Isaac Newton, and René Descartes concluded that earthly and celestial regions were comprised of similar materials and therefore were subject to the same natural laws. Their theory was difficult to prove at the time because the materials to prove their theory hadn't been invented yet. The research of the connection between astronomy and physics emerged about a century later. Joseph von Fraunhofer and William Hyde Wollaston discovered that many dark lines could be viewed in the solar spectrum when light decomposed from the sun. In 1860, physicist Gustav Kirchhoff found out the dark lines are the result of absorption by chemical elements in the solar atmosphere. This proved that the chemical elements in the stars and sun were also present on Earth.