The concentration in Astrophysics builds the foundation from which students may consider some of the deepest questions of the physical universe. What was the state and composition of the Universe at the moment of the Big Bang? What is the nature of the force that currently dominates the expansion of the Universe? How do space and time behave in the vicinity of the black hole? How do galaxies form, and how do stars and planets form within those galaxies? Are there habitable worlds other than our own? The science of astrophysics involves the study of matter and radiation in the universe as understood through the laws of physics. Astronomical phenomena exhibit an extreme range of physical conditions, from superfluid neutrons in neutron stars, high-temperature nuclear reactions in supernovae, and strong gravitational fields near black holes, to the unique state of the universe during its earliest phases. Theoretical attempts to describe these and more familiar phenomena (such as stars and galaxies) have achieved a useful understanding in many cases. However, our overall knowledge of the universe is still woefully incomplete, and our contemporary physical knowledge is often stretched to its limits in attempting to understand physical conditions that cannot be reproduced in terrestrial laboratories.
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