Teaching the Doppler effect in astrophysics

Article


Hughes, Stephen W. and Cowley, Michael. 2017. "Teaching the Doppler effect in astrophysics." European Journal of Physics. 38 (2), pp. 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6404/aa5446
Article Title

Teaching the Doppler effect in astrophysics

ERA Journal ID34299
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsHughes, Stephen W. and Cowley, Michael
Journal TitleEuropean Journal of Physics
Journal Citation38 (2), pp. 1-7
Article Number025603
Number of Pages7
Year2017
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN0143-0807
1361-6404
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6404/aa5446
Web Address (URL)https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6404/aa5446
Abstract

The Doppler effect is a shift in the frequency of waves emitted from an object moving relative to the observer. By observing and analysing the Doppler shift in electromagnetic waves from astronomical objects, astronomers gain greater insight into the structure and operation of our Universe. In this paper, a simple technique is described for teaching the basics of the Doppler effect to undergraduate astrophysics students using acoustic waves. An advantage of the technique is that it produces a visual representation of the acoustic Doppler shift. The equipment comprises a 40 kHz acoustic transmitter and a microphone. The sound is bounced off a computer fan and the signal collected by a DrDAQ ADC and processed by a spectrum analyser. Widening of the spectrum is observed as the fan power supply potential is increased from 4 to 12 V.

Keywordsastrophysics; Doppler; sound
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Byline AffiliationsQueensland University of Technology
Macquarie University
Australian Astronomical Observatory, Australia
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