Cross-disciplinary research in astronomy

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In the distant past, astronomy was often intertwined with religion into a unified cosmos. As science became a distinct cultural enterprise, astronomy has witnessed a variety of rich interactions with other fields. Mathematical statistics was stimulated in the 19th century by astronomical problems, and today astrostatistics is a small but growing cross-disciplinary field advancing methodology to address challenges in astronomical data analysis. Throughout the 20th century, astronomy became closely allied with physics such that astronomy and astrophysics are now profoundly intertwined. Physical chemistry played a major role in the identification of molecules in the Milky Way Galaxy, and astrochemistry is now an active subfield giving insights into cosmic molecular processes. The importance of cross-disciplinary interactions with engineering (for instrumentation), Earth sciences (for planetary studies), computer science (for astroinformatics) and life sciences (for astrobiology) is also growing. Cross-disciplinary research has been essential both for crucial discoveries in astronomy and for improving the quality of astronomical research. It should be fostered with increased flexibility in the training of young astronomers and with sufficient funding to nurture these fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of Science
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Event27th Accelerating the Rate of Astronomical Discovery, sps5 2009 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: Aug 11 2009Aug 14 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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