How much less competitive is astrophysics/cosmology theory compared to high energy?

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Cow
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2021 11:16 pm

How much less competitive is astrophysics/cosmology theory compared to high energy?

Post by Cow » Fri Nov 12, 2021 11:32 pm

In comparison to high energy, how competitive is astrophysics/cosmology theory? I'm a freshman in university and exploring research options right now. I currently go to a Canadian university that does a lot of astrophysics theory (pretty much gives it away there but whatever), but we did have a senior here that does high-energy theory at MIT now.

When I say cosmology I'm talking about more phenomenological stuff, not like quantum gravity or string theory. I found this thread from 2013, viewtopic.php?t=5017, and wondering if the field has changed since then.

geekusprimus
Posts: 119
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: How much less competitive is astrophysics/cosmology theory compared to high energy?

Post by geekusprimus » Sat Nov 13, 2021 5:52 pm

"Astrophysics/cosmology theory" is a very broad term. It covers everything from high-energy astrophysics (GRBs, supernovae, etc.) to astroparticle physics (neutrinos, some cosmology stuff) to gravitational wave physics to computational cosmology and everything in between. Generally speaking, all of these fields will be less competitive than HEP-theory or quantum gravity, but that's not saying much.

Secondly, you're waaaaaaay too early in your undergrad to be concerned with how competitive a particular research field is for graduate admissions. It's much more important to get quality research experience than it is to get experience in a specific area of research. It's actually really common for people to change fields when they get to graduate school. As a particularly extreme example, there's a guy in my graduate cohort who did condensed matter experiment in his undergrad who is currently working in particle theory.

My advice is to pick an interesting-sounding research group (sooner rather than later, too) with a good advisor that will give you the chance to make meaningful contributions. Don't fret over the possibility that it's not related to what your long-term interests are (which are likely to evolve over the next three or four years) or that you might not have a long-term career in that field.

Barsik
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2021 9:57 am

Re: How much less competitive is astrophysics/cosmology theory compared to high energy?

Post by Barsik » Tue Nov 16, 2021 7:51 am

Any advice on how to identify a good advisor? thank you



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