IB Physics Extended Essay Topics for IB


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  • Writing Metier

What’s up, IB scholars? You’re about to start writing your IB Physics Extended Essay, and I know you’re searching for that killer topic that’s going to stand out. Well, guess what? I’ve got over 100 extended essay topics and research questions ready for you. 

You do not need to thank me; you better say thank you to our IB writers at Writing Metier , who have invented and forwarded this awesome list to me for submission.

This isn’t just about getting it done; it’s about crushing it with something you’re passionate about.  So let’s get straight to the point and find you Physics EE ideas that will make some noise and show what you’ve got!

100+ Physics Extended Essay Topics

I’m breaking the list into ten categories for IB Physics extended essay topics, each with three subcategories for easier navigation:

  • Projectile Motion (e.g., trajectory analysis, range equations, effects of air resistance)
  • Circular Motion (e.g., centripetal force in different systems, banking angles, conical pendulums)
  • Dynamics of Rigid Bodies (e.g., rotational inertia, torque, angular momentum conservation)
  • Thermodynamics
  • Heat Transfer (e.g., efficiency of different materials as insulators, rate of cooling, Newton’s law of cooling)
  • Gas Laws (e.g., pressure-volume relationship, temperature effects, real vs. ideal gases)
  • Phase Changes (e.g., specific heat capacities, latent heat, cooling curves)
  • Waves and Oscillations
  • Harmonic Motion (e.g., pendulums, mass-spring systems, resonance)
  • Wave Properties (e.g., speed of sound in various media, diffraction patterns, polarization)
  • Sound and Acoustics (e.g., Doppler effect, sound intensity, acoustic properties of materials)
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Circuit Analysis (e.g., Ohm’s law, series vs. parallel circuits, Kirchhoff’s laws)
  • Electromagnetism (e.g., Faraday’s law, magnetic fields around conductors, applications of electromagnets)
  • Capacitance and Inductance (e.g., time constants, LC circuits, energy storage)
  • Modern Physics
  • Quantum Phenomena (e.g., photoelectric effect, electron diffraction, energy levels in atoms)
  • Nuclear Physics (e.g., radioactive decay, half-life, nuclear reactions)
  • Special Relativity (e.g., time dilation, length contraction, mass-energy equivalence)
  • Energy and Power
  • Renewable Energy Sources (e.g., efficiency of solar panels, wind turbine performance, biofuels)
  • Energy Conversion (e.g., internal combustion engines, thermal power plants, regenerative braking)
  • Power Transmission (e.g., electrical grid efficiency, power loss, superconductors)
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Aerodynamics (e.g., lift and drag forces, Bernoulli’s principle, airfoil shapes)
  • Hydrodynamics (e.g., flow rate, viscosity effects, Reynolds number)
  • Buoyancy and Density (e.g., Archimedes’ principle, floating and sinking, density stratification)
  • Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • Stellar Physics (e.g., Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, star classifications, blackbody radiation)
  • Cosmological Models (e.g., Big Bang theory, cosmic microwave background, dark matter)
  • Orbital Mechanics (e.g., Kepler’s laws, satellite motion, escape velocity)
  • Optics and Light
  • Reflection and Refraction (e.g., Snell’s law, critical angle, optical fibers)
  • Lens and Mirror Optics (e.g., image formation, focal length, magnification)
  • Interference and Diffraction (e.g., double-slit experiment, diffraction gratings, holography)
  • Electromagnetic Waves
  • Radio and Microwave Radiation (e.g., antenna design, signal propagation, communication systems)
  • Infrared and Ultraviolet Light (e.g., thermal imaging, UV radiation effects, spectroscopy)
  • X-rays and Gamma Rays (e.g., medical imaging, radiation therapy, nuclear gamma spectroscopy)

Each of these categories and subcategories can be explored through experiments, data analysis, or theoretical investigation, offering a wide range of possibilities for IB students to develop their IB Physics EE topics.

physics ee topics

Mechanics Topics and Research Questions

Projectile Motion

Topic:  The effect of launch angle on the range of a projectile.

Research Question:  How does changing the launch angle affect the horizontal distance traveled by a projectile?

Topic:  The impact of air resistance on the trajectory of a projectile.

Research Question:  To what extent does air resistance alter the trajectory of a projectile compared to the idealized motion?

Topic:  The accuracy of range equations in predicting projectile motion.

Research Question:  How accurately do standard range equations predict the motion of a projectile in a controlled environment?

Circular Motion

Topic:  Measuring centripetal force in a rotating system.

Research Question:  How does the centripetal force required for circular motion change with the radius and speed of the rotating object?

Topic:  The physics of banking angles in road design.

Research Question:  What is the optimal banking angle for a curve on a road to maximize friction and safety at a given speed?

Topic:  Investigating the period of a conical pendulum.

Research Question:  How does the length of the string affect the period of oscillation of a conical pendulum?

Dynamics of Rigid Bodies

Topic:  The relationship between rotational inertia and angular acceleration.

Research Question:  How does changing the distribution of mass affect the rotational inertia and angular acceleration of a rigid body?

Topic:  The conservation of angular momentum in a closed system.

Research Question:  How does the angular momentum of a system change when the moment of inertia is altered?

Topic:  The effect of torque on rotational motion.

Research Question:  How does the application of torque affect the rotational motion of a rigid body with a fixed axis?

Mechanics shows us how things move and what affects them, but when we start talking about thermodynamics, we’re dealing with heat and energy. 

It’s like going from watching a ball roll down a hill to understanding why it feels warm to the touch on a sunny day.

Thermodynamics Topics and Research Questions

Heat Transfer

Topic:  Comparing the thermal insulation properties of various materials.

Research Question:  Which material provides the best thermal insulation for a given application, and why?

Topic:  The rate of cooling of a liquid in different environments.

Research Question:  How does the rate of cooling of a hot liquid differ between various environmental conditions?

Topic:  Investigating Newton’s law of cooling.

Research Question:  How closely does the cooling of a warm object follow Newton’s law of cooling in a real-world setting?

Topic:  The pressure-volume relationship of a gas at constant temperature.

Research Question:  How does the volume of a gas change with pressure at a constant temperature, and does it align with Boyle’s law?

Topic:  Temperature effects on the pressure of an enclosed gas.

Research Question:  How does the pressure of a fixed amount of gas change with temperature in a sealed container?

Topic:  Real vs. ideal gases under different conditions.

Research Question:  How do the behaviors of real gases deviate from the predictions of the ideal gas law under high-pressure conditions?

Phase Changes

Topic:  Measuring specific heat capacities of different substances.

Research Question:  How do the specific heat capacities of different substances compare, and what implications does this have for their use in heat storage?

Topic:  The energy involved in the phase change of materials.

Research Question:  How much energy is absorbed or released during the phase change of a substance, and how does this relate to its latent heat?

Topic:  Analyzing cooling curves of substances.

Research Question:  What can the cooling curve of a substance tell us about its phase change properties and purity?

After getting a grip on how heat works, it’s pretty cool to see how that energy gets around. Waves are all about energy transfer, whether it’s the sound from your speakers or the ripples on a pond when you toss a stone.

Waves and Oscillations Topics and Research Questions

Harmonic Motion

Topic:  The period of a simple pendulum.

Research Question:  How does the length of a pendulum affect its period, and does this confirm the theoretical model?

Topic:  The behavior of mass-spring systems.

Research Question:  How do different spring constants affect the oscillation of a mass-spring system?

Topic:  Resonance frequencies in mechanical systems.

Research Question:  At what frequencies do various mechanical systems resonate, and what factors influence this?

Wave Properties

Topic:  Measuring the speed of sound in different media.

Research Question:  How does the speed of sound compare in various gases, and what does this tell us about the properties of those gases?

Topic:  Investigating diffraction patterns through different apertures.

Research Question:  How do diffraction patterns change with the shape and size of apertures?

Topic:  Polarization of light by various materials.

Research Question:  How effectively can different materials polarize light, and what does this indicate about their structure?

Sound and Acoustics

Topic:  The Doppler effect and moving sources.

Research Question:  How does the frequency of a sound wave change as the source moves relative to an observer?

Topic:  Sound intensity levels at different distances.

Research Question:  How does the intensity of sound change with distance from the source, and is it consistent with the inverse square law?

Topic:  Acoustic properties of materials in soundproofing.

Research Question:  Which materials are most effective at soundproofing a room, and how do their acoustic properties contribute to this effectiveness?

Each of these topics can be tailored to fit the requirements of an IB Physics extended essay, with the research question guiding the experimental design, data collection, and analysis.

If you are interested, we also have a list of potential  Physics IA topic ideas  for you. Make sure to check them out as well.

Once you’ve got a handle on waves, you’re ready to see how they relate to electricity and magnetism. It’s like connecting the dots between the vibrations in the air and the current in the wires of your headphones.

Electricity and Magnetism Topics and Research Questions

Circuit Analysis

Topic:  The resistance of series and parallel circuits.

Research Question:  How does the total resistance in a circuit vary with the arrangement of resistors in series and parallel configurations?

Topic:  Verification of Kirchhoff’s laws in complex circuits.

Research Question:  How accurately do Kirchhoff’s laws predict the current and voltage distribution in a multi-loop circuit?

Topic:  The temperature dependence of resistivity in conductors.

Research Question:  How does the resistivity of a metallic conductor change with temperature, and what does this imply about electron scattering?


Topic:  Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction.

Research Question:  How does the rate of change of magnetic flux influence the induced EMF in a coil?

Topic:  The magnetic field patterns around different conductor configurations.

Research Question:  How do the configurations of conductors affect the shape and strength of the magnetic fields they produce?

Topic:  The efficiency of electromagnets.

Research Question:  What factors determine the lifting power of an electromagnet, and how can its efficiency be maximized?

Capacitance and Inductance

Topic:  Time constants in RC circuits.

Research Question:  How does the capacitance and resistance in an RC circuit affect its charging and discharging time constants?

Topic:  Resonance in LC circuits.

Research Question:  At what conditions does resonance occur in an LC circuit, and how does this affect the circuit’s impedance?

Topic:  Energy storage in capacitors and inductors.

Research Question:  How do capacitors and inductors store energy, and what factors affect their energy storage capacity?

Electricity and magnetism are pretty easy to see in action, but modern physics? That’s where things get wild. You’re not just looking at what’s in front of you anymore; you’re considering what’s happening on a scale so small or so huge that it bends your mind a bit.

Modern Physics Topics and Research Questions

Quantum Phenomena

Topic:  The photoelectric effect and Planck’s constant.

Research Question:  How can the photoelectric effect be used to determine Planck’s constant, and what does this reveal about the nature of light?

Topic:  Electron diffraction and crystal structure.

Research Question:  How does electron diffraction provide evidence for the wave nature of electrons and the structure of crystals?

Topic:  Energy levels in hydrogen atoms.

Research Question:  How do the observed spectral lines of hydrogen correspond to the theoretical energy levels predicted by quantum mechanics?

Nuclear Physics

Topic:  Radioactive decay series.

Research Question:  How does the decay series of a radioactive isotope correspond to theoretical predictions of half-life and decay pathways?

Topic:  The effect of shielding on radiation intensity.

Research Question:  How effective are different materials at shielding against various types of radioactive emissions?

Topic:  Nuclear reaction energy calculations.

Research Question:  How does the measured energy released in a nuclear reaction compare to the values predicted by the mass-energy equivalence principle?

Special Relativity

Topic:  Time dilation observed in cosmic muons.

Research Question:  How does the observed decay rate of cosmic muons provide evidence for time dilation effects predicted by special relativity?

Topic:  Length contraction and high-speed particles.

Research Question:  How can length contraction be demonstrated or inferred from high-speed particle interactions?

Topic:  Mass-energy equivalence in particle physics.

Research Question:  How does the increase in mass of particles at high velocities provide evidence for the mass-energy equivalence principle?

But even with all that mind-bending stuff, physics isn’t just about theory. It’s also about practical stuff, like how we use energy. From solar panels on your roof to the battery in your phone, it’s all about getting the power we need to do what we want.

Energy and Power Topics and Research Questions

Renewable Energy Sources

Topic:  The efficiency of photovoltaic cells under different conditions.

Research Question:  How do factors such as light intensity, wavelength, and temperature affect the efficiency of solar panels?

Topic:  Performance analysis of wind turbines.

Research Question:  How does blade design affect the efficiency and power output of a wind turbine?

Topic:  The viability of biofuels compared to fossil fuels.

Research Question:  How do the energy outputs and carbon footprints of biofuels compare to those of traditional fossil fuels?

Energy Conversion

Topic:  The efficiency of internal combustion engines.

Research Question:  How do variables such as fuel type and engine temperature affect the efficiency of an internal combustion engine?

Topic:  Thermal efficiency of power plants.

Research Question:  What are the main factors that limit the thermal efficiency of modern thermal power plants?

Topic:  The effectiveness of regenerative braking systems.

Research Question:  How much energy can regenerative braking systems realistically recover during vehicle deceleration?

Power Transmission

Topic:  Electrical grid efficiency and power loss.

Research Question:  How does the distance and cross-sectional area of transmission lines affect power loss in an electrical grid?

Topic:  The potential of superconductors in power transmission.

Research Question:  What are the challenges and potential benefits of using superconductors for power transmission?

Topic:  The impact of load balancing on power grid stability.

Research Question:  How does load balancing affect the stability and efficiency of a power grid?

These topics and research questions are designed to inspire a range of investigations for the Physics Extended Essay, allowing students to delve into both experimental and theoretical aspects of physics.

And speaking of practical, fluid dynamics is all about understanding how liquids and gases move. It’s like figuring out why blowing over a hot soup cools it down or how an airplane stays up in the sky.

Fluid Dynamics Topics and Research Questions


Topic:  The effect of airfoil shape on lift generation.

Research Question:  How does altering the curvature and angle of an airfoil affect its lift and drag forces?

Topic:  Application of Bernoulli’s principle to various wing designs.

Research Question:  How do different wing designs in aircraft utilize Bernoulli’s principle to achieve lift?

Topic:  Drag force comparison on streamlined vs. bluff bodies.

Research Question:  How does the shape of an object affect the drag force experienced at different flow velocities?


Topic:  The relationship between flow rate and pipe diameter in fluid dynamics.

Research Question:  How does changing the diameter of a pipe affect the flow rate of a fluid within it, given a constant pressure difference?

Topic:  Viscosity effects on fluid flow in channels.

Research Question:  How does the viscosity of a fluid influence its flow characteristics in narrow channels?

Topic:  Analysis of Reynolds number in predicting fluid flow regimes.

Research Question:  How does the Reynolds number determine the transition from laminar to turbulent flow in a pipe?

Buoyancy and Density

Topic:  Investigating Archimedes’ principle for irregularly shaped objects.

Research Question:  How accurately does Archimedes’ principle predict the buoyant force on objects with complex shapes?

Topic:  The stability of floating bodies and the concept of metacentric height.

Research Question:  How does the distribution of mass affect the stability of a floating vessel?

Topic:  Density stratification in fluids and its impact on layered flow.

Research Question:  How does density stratification affect the movement and mixing of different fluid layers?

From there, it’s a big leap to astrophysics and cosmology—literally. You go from studying the flow of air around a plane to the flow of galaxies in space. It’s about seeing the bigger picture and our place in it.

If you need Physics paper writing help , we have a separate team of experts who can handle almost any tasks.

Astrophysics and Cosmology Topics and Research Questions

Stellar Physics

Topic:  Analyzing the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for star clusters.

Research Question:  What can the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram reveal about the age and composition of a star cluster?

Topic:  Classification and analysis of star spectra.

Research Question:  How does the classification of stellar spectra correlate with a star’s temperature, luminosity, and lifecycle stage?

Topic:  Investigating blackbody radiation in stars.

Research Question:  How well does the blackbody radiation model fit the observed spectral energy distribution of stars?

Cosmological Models

Topic:  Evidence for the Big Bang theory from cosmic microwave background radiation.

Research Question:  What does the cosmic microwave background radiation tell us about the origins and evolution of the universe?

Topic:  The role of dark matter in galaxy formation and rotation.

Research Question:  How does the presence of dark matter influence the rotational speeds of galaxies?

Topic:  Verifying Kepler’s laws through observation of planetary motion.

Research Question:  How accurately do Kepler’s laws describe the motion of bodies in the solar system?

Orbital Mechanics

Topic:  The energy requirements for satellite launch and achieving escape velocity.

Research Question:  What are the energy considerations and optimal conditions for a satellite to achieve escape velocity from Earth?

Topic:  The effects of orbital perturbations on satellite stability.

Research Question:  How do factors such as atmospheric drag and gravitational influences affect the stability of satellite orbits?

Topic:  Analysis of gravitational slingshot maneuvers in space missions.

Research Question:  How can gravitational assist maneuvers be optimized to increase spacecraft velocity?

But even with our heads in the stars, we can’t forget about light. Optics brings it back down to earth, showing us how light works, whether it’s bending through a lens or bouncing off a mirror.

Optics and Light Topics and Research Questions

Reflection and Refraction

Topic:  The efficiency of optical fibers in transmitting light.

Research Question:  How do imperfections in optical fibers affect the total internal reflection and efficiency of light transmission?

Topic:  Investigating Snell’s law at various interfaces.

Research Question:  How accurately does Snell’s law predict the angle of refraction for different transparent materials?

Topic:  The critical angle for total internal reflection in various media.

Research Question:  How does the critical angle for total internal reflection change with the refractive index of different materials?

Lens and Mirror Optics

Topic:  The formation of images by converging lenses under various conditions.

Research Question:  How does the focal length of a lens affect the properties of the image it forms?

Topic:  The magnification power of compound microscope systems.

Research Question:  How do the focal lengths of the objective and eyepiece lenses in a microscope affect its overall magnification?

Topic:  The aberrations in images formed by lenses and mirrors.

Research Question:  What types of optical aberrations are most prevalent in simple lens systems, and how can they be minimized?

Interference and Diffraction

Topic:  The double-slit experiment and wave-particle duality.

Research Question:  How does the double-slit experiment provide evidence for the wave-particle duality of light?

Topic:  Measuring the wavelength of light using diffraction gratings.

Research Question:  How can diffraction gratings be used to accurately measure the wavelength of light?

Topic:  The application of holography in image storage and retrieval.

Research Question:  How does holography utilize the principles of interference and diffraction to store and reconstruct images?

And light’s just one piece of the whole world of Physics. Electromagnetic waves are everywhere, from the microwave that heats your lunch to the X-rays at the dentist. It’s all part of the same big family that keeps our world connected and our lives running.

Electromagnetic Waves Topics and Research Questions

Radio and Microwave Radiation

Topic:  The design and optimization of antennas for radio communication.

Research Question:  How does the geometry of an antenna affect its radiation pattern and signal reception?

Topic:  Signal propagation in different atmospheric conditions.

Research Question:  How do atmospheric conditions affect the propagation of radio and microwave signals?

Topic:  The effectiveness of microwave radiation in communication systems.

Research Question:  What are the advantages and limitations of using microwave radiation in satellite communications?

Infrared and Ultraviolet Light

Topic:  Thermal imaging and the emissivity of different materials.

Research Question:  How does the emissivity of a material affect its detection in thermal imaging?

Topic:  The effects of UV radiation on various substances.

Research Question:  How does exposure to ultraviolet light affect the chemical structure and properties of different materials?

Topic:  Spectroscopy and the identification of chemical compounds.

Research Question:  How can infrared and ultraviolet spectroscopy be used to identify and analyze different chemical compounds?

X-rays and Gamma Rays

Topic:  The application of X-ray imaging in medical diagnostics.

Research Question:  How do different tissues and materials affect the absorption and transmission of X-rays in medical imaging?

Topic:  Radiation therapy and the optimization of gamma ray dosage.

Research Question:  How can the dosage and targeting of gamma rays in radiation therapy be optimized for cancer treatment?

Topic:  Nuclear gamma spectroscopy and nuclear structure.

Research Question:  What can gamma-ray spectra reveal about the structure and energy states of atomic nuclei?

These topics and research questions are designed to guide students in their exploration of advanced concepts in physics, providing a foundation for a thorough and insightful Extended Essay.

Creating an engaging and contemporary Physics Extended Essay can be particularly rewarding when the topic is relevant to modern situations and challenges. 

Fresh Breath Ideas for Physics IB EE in 2023/2024

Here are 12 topics that connect to current events or recent advancements in technology, along with a brief explanation of their relevance:

The Physics of Electric Vehicles

Investigate the efficiency of regenerative braking systems in electric cars and how they contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the vehicle.

Renewable Energy Harvesting

Analyze the potential of piezoelectric materials in converting mechanical stress from human activities into electrical energy, contributing to sustainable power generation.

Smartphone Sensors

Explore the use of gyroscopes and accelerometers in smartphones for navigation and gaming, and how these sensors rely on principles of mechanics and material science.

Wireless Charging Technologies

Examine the electromagnetic principles behind wireless charging pads and the efficiency of energy transfer at various distances and alignments.

Solar Panel Coatings

Research the effectiveness of anti-reflective coatings on solar panels and their role in enhancing the absorption of light and overall energy conversion efficiency.

Aerodynamics of Drones

Study the impact of drone design on flight stability and energy consumption, which is critical for extending their use in delivery systems and aerial photography.

Physics in Sports Equipment

Investigate the materials and design features that contribute to the performance and safety of modern sports helmets, from bicycles to football.

Thermal Imaging and Disease Detection

Explore the use of thermal imaging in detecting fevers and its potential application in managing pandemics by early identification of symptomatic individuals.

Nanomaterials in Electronics

Analyze the electrical conductivity and properties of graphene and other nanomaterials that are revolutionizing the electronics industry.

Physics of Modern Building Design

Investigate how principles of thermodynamics are applied in the design of eco-friendly and energy-efficient buildings.

Quantum Computing

Study the basic principles of quantum computing and the challenges in maintaining quantum coherence in qubits, which are the fundamental building blocks of quantum computers.

SpaceX and Reusable Rockets

Research the physics behind the reusability of rockets, focusing on the landing mechanisms employed by companies like SpaceX and how they conserve momentum and energy.

Each of these topics is not only grounded in physics principles but also has a wealth of information available due to their current relevance and the ongoing research in these areas. 

They offer a chance to combine theoretical physics with practical application in the modern world, which can be particularly engaging for an Extended Essay.

Need a Hand with Your Physics IB EE?

Hey there, IB students! If you’re stuck on coming up with a topic or diving into writing your Physics IB Extended Essay, don’t sweat it. Our team of IB experts at Writing Metier is here to help you write a custom IB EE on this exciting subject . 

astrophysics extended essay topics

Whether you need a spark of inspiration for your topic or you want a custom-written EE following the word count , rubric and criteria that hits all the right notes, we’ve got your back. 

Reach out to us at Writing Metier extended essay writing service and have a rest while experts are working on your task.

So, that’s the rundown. Physics isn’t just about equations and lab coats; it’s the stuff all around us, from the smallest particles to the vastness of space. It’s about getting to the heart of how things work, from the every day to the extraordinary. 

And the more you learn, the more you see how everything’s linked together in one big, amazing picture.

Free topic suggestions

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Vasyl Kafidoff is a co-founder and CEO at WritingMetier. He is interested in education and how modern technology makes it more accessible. He wants to bring awareness about new learning possibilities as an educational specialist. When Vasy is not working, he’s found behind a drum kit.

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astrophysics extended essay topics

IB Extended Essay Topics: Physics

extended essay topics physics

Stepping into the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program is a significant milestone, and choosing the right Extended Essay topic in Physics can be exciting and daunting. From my years of experience as an IB educator and essay advisor, I’ve seen firsthand how the choice of topic can affect a student’s research. Therefore, in this article, I aim to share insights and ideas on topics for the IB DP Physics Extended Essay.

Understanding the IB Physics Extended Essay

The IB Physics Extended Essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research that culminates in a 4,000-word paper required for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

According to the IB criteria, this significant academic task involves students independently researching a topic that sparks their interest in IB DP Physics. It’s an excellent opportunity to investigate a question that captivates you and apply theoretical concepts to practical situations.

The primary aim is not merely to produce an essay but to engage in an exhaustive study showcasing your grasp of physics and enthusiasm for the subject. Now, let’s consider the following aspects of the IB Physics Extended Essay:

  • Scope of Research . It’s essential to select a topic that allows for an in-depth investigation within the constraints of the available resources and the word limit.
  • Application of Theory . The essay should demonstrate how physics theories and concepts can be applied to analyze a specific problem or question.
  • Methodology . A clear and systematic approach to conducting your research is critical. It involves choosing appropriate methods for data collection and analysis.
  • Critical Thinking . Throughout your essay, you should critically evaluate the information, data, and methodologies used.
  • Creativity and Originality . Finding innovative ways to approach your topic can set your essay apart. It’s about posing new questions, exploring novel perspectives, or applying theories in unique contexts.
  • Structured Argument . Your essay should present a coherent argument supported by evidence, leading the reader through your findings to a logical conclusion.
  • Reflection . Reflecting on what you have learned from the research process and how it has affected your understanding of the subject area is a valuable component of the essay.

Remember, the goal is not just to write an essay but to engage in a thorough investigation demonstrating your understanding and passion for the Physics course.

Topics to Read:

  • How IB Prepares Students for University?
  • Can You Retake the IB Exams? Guide for IB Students
  • Stress Management and Well-Being for IB Students
  • How to Manage Time Effectively as an IB Student
  • The Benefits of Pursuing the IB Diploma Programme
  • IB vs. National Curriculum. The Benefits of an International Perspective
  • What Are the Average IB Acceptance Rates? Insights from an IB Expert
  • What Are the IB Internal Assessment Deadlines for 2024?
  • Does an IB Diploma Help with College Admissions?
  • How to Make Awesome IB Notes?
  • How to Get Into the IB Program? IB Preparation
  • What to Wear for IB Exams? IB Dress Code

Physics Extended Essay Topics and Research Questions

Let’s talk about some potential extended essay topics in Зhysics. Quantum mechanics, with its paradoxes and mysteries, offers a rich vein of questions to explore. Additionally, investigating the principles of relativity in everyday phenomena can provide a relatable yet profound topic. Renewable energy projects are increasingly relevant and offer a plethora of research opportunities. Lastly, the vastness of astrophysics allows for endless curiosity and exploration, from black holes to the cosmic microwave background.

IB DP Physics

The best topics for an IB Physics Extended Essay allow you to explore areas where you can apply physical principles, theories, and experimental investigations to answer complex questions. Here are some ideas:

  • The Effect of Winglet Angles on Aircraft Efficiency . How do variations in winglet angles on a model aircraft wing affect its lift-to-drag ratio during flight?
  • Investigating Solar Panel Orientation for Optimal Power Generation . How do different solar panel orientations and angles impact power output in a specific geographic location?
  • Analyzing the Efficiency of Magnetic Levitation in Reducing Friction . How does the use of magnetic levitation affect the frictional forces on a miniaturized model of a maglev train?
  • The Physics of Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change . How do different carbon dioxide concentrations affect infrared radiation absorption in a controlled environment?
  • Exploring the Properties of Non-Newtonian Fluids under Stress . How does the application of varying stress levels affect the viscosity of a non-Newtonian fluid, such as a cornstarch and water mixture?
  • The Role of Antenna Design in Enhancing Wireless Communication . How does the design of a DIY antenna affect the strength and range of wireless signals it receives?
  • The Impact of Crater Size on Meteorite Impact Simulations . What relationship exists between the size of a projectile and the crater it creates in sand, simulating meteorite impacts?
  • Studying the Effects of Temperature on the Elasticity of Rubber Bands . How does changing the temperature affect rubber bands’ elasticity and tensile strength?
  • Investigation into the Optimal Conditions for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Efficiency . Under what conditions does a homemade hydrogen fuel cell operate most efficiently in terms of voltage output?
  • Analyzing the Effectiveness of Different Types of Insulators in Minimizing Heat Loss . How do various household materials compare to thermal insulators in preventing heat loss from a container?
  • The Physics Behind Efficient Bicycle Gear Ratios . How do different gear ratios affect cyclists’ efficiency and energy expenditure under various conditions?
  • Exploring the Influence of Mirror Shape on the Focal Point of Solar Collectors . How does altering the shape of reflective mirrors affect the concentration and temperature at the focal point of a solar collector?
  • Investigating the Relationship Between Electric Motor Speed and Load . What is the relationship between the load applied to an electric motor and its rotation speed?
  • The Effect of Blade Design on Wind Turbine Efficiency . How does the blade design of a model wind turbine affect its power output under controlled wind conditions?
  • Studying the Propagation of Sound Waves in Different Mediums . How do sound waves propagate in various mediums, and how does the medium affect the speed and attenuation of sound?
  • The Dynamics of Pendulum Motion in Non-Uniform Gravitational Fields . How does the length of a pendulum affect its period in regions with varying gravitational strengths?
  • Investigating the Effects of Surface Roughness on Solar Panel Efficiency . How does the surface roughness of photovoltaic solar panels impact their efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity?
  • The Physics of Ice Skating: Friction and Temperature . What is the relationship between the ice’s temperature and the friction coefficient encountered by an ice skate?
  • Evaluating the Impact of Air Resistance on Projectile Range . How do the shape and size of projectiles affect their range in the presence of air resistance?
  • The Efficiency of Piezoelectric Materials in Energy Harvesting . How effective are different piezoelectric materials in generating electricity from mechanical stress?
  • Thermal Conductivity and Building Materials: A Comparative Study . How do different building materials compare in terms of thermal conductivity and energy efficiency in a model house?
  • The Effect of Altitude on the Boiling Point of Water . How does changing altitude affect the boiling point of water, and what implications does this have for cooking at high elevations?
  • Optimizing the Design of a Parabolic Solar Heater . What is the most efficient design for a parabolic solar heater when considering the focal point and surface area?
  • The Role of Resonance in Bridge Oscillations: A Historical Analysis . How have instances of resonance-induced oscillations in bridges influenced modern bridge design?
  • Investigating the Photoelectric Effect in Different Metals . How does the photoelectric effect vary across different metals, and what does this reveal about their electronic structure?
  • The Physics of Musical Instruments: String Tension and Pitch . How does the tension of strings on different musical instruments affect the pitch and quality of the sound produced?
  • Exploring the Efficiency of Vertical vs. Horizontal Wind Turbines . Which vertical or horizontal orientation is more efficient for wind turbines in urban settings?
  • The Impact of Battery Temperature on Electric Vehicle Performance . How does the operating temperature of batteries affect the performance and range of electric vehicles?
  • Studying the Refractive Index of Various Liquids Under Temperature Changes . How does changing the temperature of different liquids affect their refractive index?
  • The Physics of Archery: Arrow Dynamics and Material Science . How do an arrow’s material properties and design affect its flight dynamics and accuracy?
  • Analyzing the Radiation Shielding Properties of Martian Regolith . Could Martian regolith be effectively used to shield habitats on Mars from radiation?
  • The Influence of Magnetic Fields on Plant Growth . How do varying magnetic field strengths affect certain plants’ growth rate and health?
  • The Acoustic Properties of Concert Halls . What architectural features contribute most significantly to the acoustic quality of concert halls?
  • The Effectiveness of Heat Sinks in Electronic Devices . How do different materials and designs of heat sinks affect the thermal management of electronic devices?
  • The Correlation Between Solar Flare Activity and Earth’s Climate . Is there a significant correlation between periods of increased solar flare activity and changes in Earth’s climate patterns?
  • The Impact of Wind Turbine Design on Bird Populations . How does the design of wind turbines affect bird mortality rates, and what design modifications can reduce these impacts?
  • The Physics of Long-Distance Space Travel: Propulsion Systems . What are the most promising propulsion systems for long-distance space travel, and how do they compare in terms of efficiency and feasibility?

These topics and questions provide a starting point for an in-depth exploration of physical concepts, encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the context of real-world applications.

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Writing an IB Physics extended essay is both challenging and enjoyable. Choosing a good topic, completing comprehensive research, and writing a well-structured paper may greatly influence your IB Diploma experience. Remember, this is your chance to demonstrate your enthusiasm and knowledge of Physics.

By the way, our dedicated team of IB experts can guide students who need help with Extended Essay writing. Contact us for personalized essay assistance.

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IB Physics EE examples

Filter exemplars, fluid’s density effect on falling objects, how is the lift at various angles of attack affected by flap deflection angles, want to get full marks for your ee allow us to review it for you 🎯, what effect does the difference in radius at the top and bottom of the roller coaster loop have on the maximum change in g-force that a passenger experiences, what is the relationship between the height of the siphon and the flow velocity out of the siphon, how does increasing the angle of a simple pendulum affect its time period, fast track your coursework with mark schemes moderated by ib examiners. upgrade now 🚀, how does the velocity of a bicycle on a flat horizontal surface affect its stability, investigación sobre el movimiento giroscópico de una peonza y su estabilidad dependiendo de la velocidad de rotación., what effect do mass, radius and length have on the moment of inertia of a cylinder being rotated about its central diameter, how does the total energy supplied during ultrasonic cavitation of benzene affect the integrated photoluminescence intensity and quantum yield of graphene quantum dots (gqds), can the relationship between drag and velocity, r=bv^2, be proved experimentally by finding the constant of proportionality (25/34), how do changes in viscosity of fluid affect the speed and amplitude of surface waves that are generated by an impact of spherical object, can the technology currently under development for wireless power transfer provide a viable and efficient method for delivering electrical power to a wide range of home and industrial applications, “how does the length of a u folded metallic chain with one end fixed affect the time taken for it to unfold under the influence of gravity”, quel est l'effet de la masse et de la pression initiale sur la portée d'une fusée à eau, can we validate the conclusions from the 1919 dyson & eddington total solar eclipse expedition through data analysis of succeeding total eclipse expeditions, how do the angular momentum and orbital velocity affect the eccentricities of planetary orbits, how does the phase of argon crystal (density, volume, length and msd) change as the crystal is monotonically heated in the temperature range from 50 to 150 kelvins, to what extent does the bend radius of a silicone tube affect the loss in light intensity for different incoming wavelengths, to what extent do cloud chambers effectively display subatomic particles and the fundamental interactions in the surrounding environment, what is the relationship between the critical air speed required to blow a bubble and the radius of the wand forming it, how does altering the curvature of an aircraft wing function to reduce aerodynamic drag and thus aircraft greenhouse emissions, what is the effect of manipulating the coefficient ’a’ of the parabolic function ax2 on the intensity of the light reflecting off a parabolic object, emitted from set different angles (0°, 15°, and 30°), how does strain rate affect the true stress and true strain of aluminium, steel and polystyrene subject to uniaxial tension, an investigation into the physics of toroidal banked turns, ee physics - what are the requirements for an underwater structure to maintain its structural integrity, to what extent does the backward motion of a human foot impacts the rebound distance of a soccer ball after they collide, how does the maximum height that the water rocket can reach change with the variation of the initially filled amount of water, evidence for the existence of dark matter, when powering a home-built bobbin- tractor, how does the stored energy of a rubber band change depending on the number of twists and the number of elastic bands used, the relationship between the salinity of water and the refractive index of water, what is the effect of inclination of open drainage channels on the rate of flow of water and silt-retention in channels, investigating the effect of changing the distance between the magnets (distance between the stages in a gaussian gun) and the velocity of the ejected metal marble., to what extent do the properties of delta cephei compare to those of the sun.

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Extended Essay Topics: 50+ Examples for Subject in EE

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by  Antony W

July 30, 2022

astrophysics extended essay topics

This is the complete list of Extended Essay topics on different EE subject areas. We’ve packed this guide with as many topic ideas as possible.

So if you’re just getting started with the IB extended essay assignment and you’re already stuck on topic selection, this post might help you to get unstuck.

What is an Extended Essay?

Abbreviated as EE, the Extended Essay is a required component of the IB Diploma Program for all students, regardless of the disciplines they are studying.

The objective of the Extended Essay is to offer students the chance to conduct research on a topic of their choice and demonstrate knowledge and reading beyond the classroom curriculum. The essay also provides students with the opportunity to develop abilities necessary for researching and writing in advanced learning institutions.

Students often begin working on their essay during the second term of their first year of the IB Diploma Program. They will require a manager (one of the teachers at their school) with whom they will meet on a regular basis to help them outline their research questions and lead them through the writing process.

The IB diploma program allows you to prepare and submit one draft to the supervisor for input, followed by a second, final draft. As for the length of the extended essay, you want to make sure the assignment doesn’t exceed 4,000 words .

Getting Extended Essay Help

Owing to the very nature of the IB program, searching for an extended essay topic and getting the task completed can be an involving task. If you feel like the whole process would end up rather overwhelming, you can take advantage of our extended essay writing service and we’ll help you get the task done. 

For just $19.09/page, you can get the professional writing help and advice required to score a 34 in your Extended Essay. The pricing is standard regardless of the topic you would like to work on.

Extended Essay Topics

If you’re confident that you can write an extended essay yourself, and you should, you need to start with selecting the right topic for the assignment. Here are some topic ideas to get you started: 

1. English Extended Essay Topics

The following are some of the best examples of topic ideas to consider if you choose to write an Extended Essay in the English subject.

  • How the heroic couplets of the neoclassical period differed from those of the romantic period, and why classical poetry had so many rules.
  • How many different styles of poetry can we observe from the English Renaissance through modernism and postmodernism?
  • Does colonialism have an effect on modern poetry and the manner in which it evolves during the many eras of colonial rule?
  • Why has euphemism been so prominent in the English language for so long and how does this affect the lexicon and structure of the language?
  • Can we argue that, unlike other languages of the globe, English is a language of conventions and traditions with no hard and fast rules?
  • What function does slang play in the English language, and how are slang terms now preserved in official and academic dictionaries?
  • What are the primary causes of the gradual shift in the spelling of English words through time?
  • Impact of globalization on the evolution of the English language as it becomes the universal language.

We encourage you to read more about English Extended Essay for further insights.

2. Biology Extended Essay Topics

  • How do age and gender influence the photoreceptor cells in the human retina?
  • What effects does climate change have on the appearance of coral reefs?
  • An analysis of how antioxidants function in the human body?
  • Which of hand sanitizer, hand soap, or antibacterial wipes inhibits the development of E. coli the most effectively?
  • How does population density between X and X’s population size relate?
  • What is the link between the growth hormone indoleacetic acid and the growth of X?

You can read more about Biology EE here.

3. Business Management Extended Essay Topics

We put together an in-depth guide on IB Business Management EE to give you more insight about the subject.

In addition to teaching you exactly how to write an EE in this subject, the post includes some interesting topic ideas as well as their respective research questions.

Remember to check it out to learn more.

4. Chemistry Extended Essay Topics

  • What effect does acid rain have on the trees, plants, and public gardens in your neighborhood?
  • Analyze the chemical composition of various types of lava and magma rocks from across the world.
  • What kinds of chemical components are responsible for the majority of food allergies?
  • Examine the chemistry of MDMA and other “nightclub” or designer drugs in users of various ages.
  • Examine how chemical experiments and the knowledge gained from them have altered the globe.
  • How has the usage of fluoride in the community’s water supply benefited and harmed the community?
  • What chemical difference does choosing organic foods vs pesticide-treated foods have on our bodies?
  • What impact have big cosmetics manufacturers made on our contemporary understanding of chemistry?
  • What type of chemistry is involved in making generic medications cheaper than brand-name pharmaceuticals?

You can read more about Chemistry Extended Essay in this post.

5. Computer Science Extended Essay Topics

  • In what way are support vector machines more accurate in predicting ATP tennis matches than artificial neural networks?
  • To what extent are Java-generated pseudo-random numbers more predictable than C#-generated numbers?
  • How much more effectively does MP3 encoding reduce quality loss and file size than OGG in terms of algorithmic efficiency and encoded file quality?
  • How well does the binary search algorithm locate specific values among variable-sized data sets?
  • How much more efficient is Depth First Search than Breadth First Search for path finding in artificial intelligence and robot motion planning?
  • To what degree is hashing a more appropriate and efficient method than binary search for locating specific values in different-sized data sets?
  • How do Password Length and Character Variation Influence the Entropy of a Password?
  • How much more space-efficient is the AES symmetric encryption method compared to the Blowfish symmetric encryption technique when encrypting data of varied sizes and types?

6. Economics Extended Essay Topics

  • What is the connection between unemployment and economic contraction?
  • Is Alcohol Consumption Regulation Beneficial to the Stock Market?
  • Trucking Companies and the Effects of Sanctions and Trade Embargoes
  • Analysis of the Effects of Increasing Taxes on Multinational Corporations and Religious Organizations
  • What Negative Effects Will a “Hard” Brexit Have on Scotland and Wales?
  • How Will the Substitution of Fossil Fuels with Solar Power Affect the Economies of Middle Eastern Nations?
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, deforestation and man-made disasters are the leading causes of poverty.

We’ve written an in-depth guide on Economics Extended Essay, and we encourage you to check it out to learn more about the subject.

7. Environmental Systems and Societies EE Topics

The following are some interesting topics on the Environmental Systems and Societies. The X is a variable, which can be a name of any city or country you’d wish to investigate in your ESS.

  • What forest and woodland restoration strategies exist in Siberia, Russia, and one is the most effective?
  • How can human meddling in X city/country/continent produce ecological imbalances?
  • What effect does urbanization have on the bee population in X city?
  • What are the distinctions between Yosemite National Park (California, USA) and Lake District National Park (United Kingdom) in terms of dialogue efforts?
  • How much have healthcare policies in nation X affected its human population curve?
  • What impact has X’s landfill had on the surrounding terrestrial ecosystem?

You can read our ESS guide to learn more about this subject before you start working on your Extended Essay assignment.

8. Film Extended Essay Topics  

  • Relationship between IMDB ratings and several national and international film honors
  • The current transformation of masculinity as represented in Fight Club
  • Varieties of timeline modification methods in cinematography
  • Sci-fi film portrayals of scientists and the scientific method are grossly inaccurate.
  • Moving camera – inventive approaches (such as those utilized in The Matrix or Guy Ritchie’s film)
  • How can filmic approaches depict the evolution of Disney princesses from 1937 to 2012?
  • How are transgender characters portrayed in two films from distinct periods?

9. Geography Extended Essay Topics

  • What socioeconomic and urban design elements contribute to high vandalism rates in Eindhoven’s neighborhoods?
  • How does the quality of life of Filipina Foreign Domestic Workers in Downtown Singapore compare to that of Filipinas in the Philippines?
  • An inquiry examining whether Singapore qualifies as a sustainable city
  • To what degree do migratory patterns and motivations in the northern area of Thailand correspond to predicted migration movements in an LDC?
  • Comparative analysis of the provision of public services in Warsaw’s districts

Check out our complete guide on Geography EE to learn more about the subject. Make sure you check the assessment criteria part, so you can write the kind of an EE that earns you top grades – if not a 34.

10. Global Politics EE

  • The legitimacy of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq; to what extent was the invasion justified? (2021)
  • How media depictions and government information can diverge
  • How the success of a political party in one nation may affect the results in another.
  • Comparing the influence of global political trends on two countries reveals contrasting results.
  • The effect of a single crisis on the political ties between two countries

We’ve put together a more comprehensive guide on Global Politics Extended Essay . So we encourage you to check that out to learn more.

11. History Extended Essay

  • The consequences of dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • You can investigate the economic, ethnic, social, and even environmental consequences of conflict diamonds.
  • The evolution of military technology during the American Civil War
  • The post-apartheid work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Southwest Africa
  • The rise and collapse of the Ottoman Empire and its economic influence

You can get more topic ideas on this subject from this post .

12. Math Extended Essay

  • How can mathematics be used to determine the ideal distance from the try line for positioning the ball for a rugby union conversion kick?
  • In the sliding tile problem, what is the graph structure of m x n?
  • How long does it take to travel around the whole Singapore MRT network? (2015)
  • Modeling mathematics – An examination of the Richardson arms race model (2020)
  • Real-world applications of a study of differential equations of the second order
  • A mathematical examination of shock absorbers’ damped harmonic motion

Our IB Math EE guide has more insights worth checking out. So we recommend going through the guide before you start writing an extended essay on this subject.

13. Physics Extended Essay Ideas  

  • How may the design of an airplane’s wings affect its aerodynamic performance?
  • Why is it required for the wing of an aircraft to have an ‘angle of attack’? Is it impossible for the aircraft to behave the same without the angle of attack?
  • If landing gears are a cause of drag during flight, how is a Cessna able to deliver a sufficient amount of force to overcome drag?

14. Psychology EE Ideas  

  • What do we know about the connection between stress and bodily disease, and can we utilize this information to manage stress?
  • To what degree can psychology offer plausible explanations for altruistic behavior?
  • Which strategies are most effective in assisting autistic youngsters in improving their everyday functioning?
  • The difficulty of identifying particular genetic variables that might indicate an autism risk
  • How well biological (or sociocultural) variables explain the origin of homosexuality.
  • To what degree does parental discipline affect the temperament of their children?
  • Are Montessori schools, which utilize a humanistic approach to education, also consistent with cognitive theory?

We’ve put together a complete guide on Physics Extended Essay. So, check that out to learn more about the subject. 

15. Visual Arts

  • What role did national themes have in the creative activity of Russian avant-garde artists associated with the Knave of Diamonds society?
  • How did men and women’s clothes communicate National Socialist ideals?
  • How does Yinka Shonibare’s work represent the evolving importance of African art in a global society?
  • What are the origins of Romanesque architecture in Arles?
  • Are there pop art elements in the design of Pakistani trucks?

Check out this post to learn more about the topic. 

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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EE about Astronomy/Astrophysics. Suggested topics?


By AndreaRuiz December 7, 2010 in Extended Essay

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Hello! I'm Andrea, nice to meet you :3 I'm particularly interested in making my EE on Astronomy/Astrophysics but still haven't decided a topic to use. I need to start that right away and get done with it before or early in Year 2. Which topic do you suggest me to work on?


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Question: Have you read the "subject guides" for physics, history, world religions, or Classical Studies (Greece and Rome)?

If you haven't try and read these so you can get a good idea of what the subjects will require of you, if you choose any one of them.

As for the others, you can examine Astrology/Astronomy and its significance in certain religions, or its development (and possibly effects) and those two type of topics would possibly fall under the other three subjects.

  • 1 month later...

How about determining the effect on Newton's gravitational constant as a result of an exapanding universe and accelerated speeds of recession? Or something to do with the existence of dark matter and its effect on the fate of the universe?

Hmm... when doing science-based essays, try to make them experimental. I mean, it's perfectly fine to examine theories but if you can go for experiments then it will be much "easier" to get higher grades (this is what I read in the IB EE guide...it is more likely to get a better mark from an experimental EE than from a theoretical one).

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  • Extended Essay

The Extended Essay guide is the ultimate place to go for all official IB information on this aspect of the Diploma. This gives information about what your responsibilities are as an advisor, the assessment criteria and their clarifications for physics essays. On this site we summarise the requirements and reflect on some physics-specific requirements.

As a quick rule of thumb, remember 4 4 4:

  • 40 hours of work
  • 4 hours of meeting time

astrophysics extended essay topics

The basic requirements of a physics essay make sense:

  • Develop an area of interest
  • Research a framework on which to conduct an investigation (e.g. an equation or law)
  • Data analysis

However, it is important to familiarise yourself and your student with other key aspects of the Extended Essay before kicking off.


Towards the end of the first year of their Diploma Programme, all IB students at your school will start to choose their Extended Essay (EE) subject. Some of them might choose physics, which is where you come in! Your supervisee should already be familiar to you as a student of physics already (probably at Higher Level). Regardless of the subject chosen, the essay has a 4000 word limit and should conduct approximately 40 hours of research. This is the time when students get the chance to go deeper into a subject giving you the supervisor the chance to work on a more individual level with the keenest students (in theory!).

Having supervised about 100 essays in 20 years' of teaching the IB, Chris took up the challenge to have a go at doing one himself!  Here are his thoughts...

Although I didn't use the whole 40 hours the experience has given me a new insight into the process that I hope will be useful. Maybe my first piece of advice should be "go write one", its the best way to learn what it's about. My students thought it was pretty cool but wanted to know why I'd waited until they had submitted theirs. Anyway I submitted it to an experienced marker and got an A , now I feel ready to give advice to both supervisors and students. The essay used the same research question that an ex-student of mine had used, I remembered it to be a neat idea so thought I'd have a go at doing the experiments myself. Recently I met the student and he sent me his original essay and gave me permission to post it ( Dusan's essay ). Unfortunately a couple of the images are missing but it still makes sense. He also got an A and I have to admit that his analysis was more thorough than mine.

astrophysics extended essay topics

This will take the form of 3 formal interviews:

  • The first will be early in the process, perhaps during the first hours of data collection and with a sample of writing. This is also to point to check that your supervisee has all the necessary skills for their project (ICT, data collection, research, referencing, writing).
  • The second is an interim meeting, in which you should be intellectually critical of the students' decisions to date and to advise them on the final steps to making a valid conclusion. However, it will probably be too late at this stage to amend the methodological approach.
  • The last is a viva voce, when the student has submitted a final draft of their work.

A written report must be completed by the student after each interview. These reports are signed by the supervisor with brief comments and are submitted to the IB along with the essay. They will be assessed and evidence of a good process with growth in sophistication can get the student 6 out of 34 marks.

Between meetings 2 and 3, you will formatively mark a near-complete draft of the student's work, but without being too prescriptive - there is exemplar guidance in the Guide on the sort of feedback permitted.

Ensure that you liaise regularly with your school's Diploma Coordinator for their in-house supervisor training or to agree to your local procedures (e.g. timing, deadlines).

There are five separate aims that are listed in the IB guide; these are what the student will gain by doing an EE. Essentially an Extended Essay provides the student with the opportunity to:

  • engage in independent research with intellectual initiative and rigour
  • develop research, thinking, self-management and communication skills
  • reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process.

Tthe extended essay should be an opportunity to develop certain skills and experience what it is like to take part in research. It's an introduction to the sort of work that they will be involved in at university. The rest of the IB physics programme is focussed around passing the exam and learning how to fulfil assessment criteria, so this is a brilliant opportunity to go a bit beyond the constraints of the course (but not beyond the constraints of the EE criteria).

Many students will comment on how writing an EE has given them an advantage at university. They already know how to structure an essay, make references, insert diagrams, etc. The process of writing an EE enables the student to develop along the lines of the official aims although not all get to "experience the thrill and excitement".

Interestingly enough there is no mention in the aims of "giving the brilliant student the chance to excel" or "enabling the student to go way beyond the realms of the syllabus" but this is how the EE is sometimes portrayed and that misconception may even have found its way into the minds of some markers. Why would we expect students to be able to write an essay on topics not even touched on in class? The point is they are supposed to use the knowledge they possess to investigate something new. Of course there is nothing wrong with the brilliant student being able to extend their knowledge but this shouldn't be the norm.

There are 10 objectives required in order to meet the aims:

  • To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the topic chosen and the research question posed.
  • To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of subject specific terminology and/or concepts.
  • To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of relevant and/or appropriate research sources and/or methods used to gather information.
  • To select and apply research that is relevant and appropriate to the research question.
  • To analyse the research effectively and focus on the research question.
  • To be able to discuss the research in terms of a clear and coherent reasoned argument in relation to the research question.
  • To be able to critically evaluate the arguments presented in the essay.
  • To be able to reflect on and evaluate the research process.
  • To be able to present information in an appropriate academic format.
  • To understand and demonstrate academic integrity.

One thing to note about the aims and objectives is that they are very much about what skills the student is going to develop and what they are expected to do. The job of the supervisor is to give advice and encouragement when needed. The supervisor may meet with the student for 4 of the 40 hours, but most of the time the student is alone. This is deliberate: the student should show initiative and experience what it is like to work independently on a big project. If the supervisor gets too involved then the aims will not be met.

Go Physics Go

astrophysics extended essay topics

Scroll down for free IB physics worksheets, free video solutions to the worksheets, to learn more about the internal assessment and the extended essay, suggestions for learning physics, and opportunities to teach abroad.

Please feel free to download and share the free IB physics worksheets on this website with all the IB physics students and IB physics teachers you know. 

These worksheets are specifically made for the IB physics curriculum for the 2024 exam and 2025 exam.

The free solutions to all these free IB physics worksheets can be found on the YouTube channel Go Physics Go . 

There are only three steps required to learn physics from this website:

Step 1: Download the free IB physics worksheets.

Step 2: Print the worksheets or go to a print shop and print a workbook.

Step 3: Watch and take notes on the free videos in the worksheets which you have printed.

Please remember to go on YouTube to comment, like, share, and subscribe!

Suggestion for teachers: Get your school to print a workbook for each student. Begin each topic during class and assign a few problems for homework. Let the students know that they can check their solutions on the YouTube channel .

astrophysics extended essay topics

Free IB Physics Worksheets

Worksheets for 2025 exam.

A.1 Kinematics

A.2 Forces and Momentum

A.3 Work, Energy, and Power

A.4 Rigid Body Mechanics

A.5 Galilean and Special Relativity

Topic A: Space, Time, and Motion

B.1 Thermal Energy Transfers

B.2 Greenhouse Effect

B.3 Gas Laws

B.4 Thermodynamics

B.5 Current and Circuits

Topic B: The Particulate Nature of Matter

C.1 Simple Harmonic Motion

C.2 Wave Model

C.3 Wave Phenomena

C.4 Standing Waves and Resonance

C.5 Doppler Effect

Topic C: Wave Behavior

D.1 Gravitational Fields

D.2 Electric and Magnetic Fields

D.3 Motion in Electromagnetic Fields

D.4 Induction

Topic D: Fields

E.1 Structure of the Atom

E.2 Quantum Physics

E.3 Radioactive Decay

E.4 Fission

E.5 Fusion and Stars

Topic E: Nuclear and Quantum Physics

Worksheets for 2024 Exam

Topics 1.1-8.2

Topics 9.1-12.2

Option B: Engineering Physics

Option D: Astrophysics

Free Video Solutions to IB Physics Worksheets

Topic A.0 Math

Topic A.1 Kinematics

Topic A.2 Forces and Momentum

Topic A.3 Work, Energy, and Power

Topic A.4 Rigid Body Mechanics

Topic A.5 Galilean and Special Relativity

Topic B.1 Thermal Energy Transfers

Topic B.2 Greenhouse Effect

Topic B.3 Gas Laws

Topic B.4 Thermodynamics

Topic B.5 Current and Circuits

Topic C.1 Simple Harmonic Motion

Topic C.2 Wave Model

Topic C.3 Wave Phenomena

Topic C.4 Standing Waves and Resonance

Topic C.5 Doppler Effect

Topic D.1 Gravitational Fields

Topic D.2 Electric and Magnetic Fields

Topic D.3 Motion in Electromagnetic Fields

Topic D.4 Induction

Topic E.1 Structure of the Atom

Topic E.2 Quantum Physics

Topic E.3 Radioactive Decay

Topic E.4 Fission

Topic E.5 Fusion and Stars

IB Physics Internal Assessment

The IB physics internal assessment is all about showing the IBO that you know how to write a complete lab report.

You really need to go over and apply the mark scheme for the internal assessment again and again to your internal assessment to receive a high score. The mark scheme is given at the bottom of this section.

Ask your teacher for samples of the internal assessment. If he/she can’t provide any for you then go online and try to find some. If that doesn’t work then e-mail me at  [email protected]  and I can send you a few.

Get your classmates to read your internal assessment and read theirs too to gain more knowledge.

The IBO does not want teachers to read more than 12 pages for the internal assessment. If your internal assessment is more than 12 pages then you are doing something wrong. If you have too many raw data tables, processed data tables, and/or graphs then consider putting that information in the appendix which will not be counted as part of your physics internal assessment.

Your internal assessment should have the following sections:

  • Your cover page should have your research question as the title and the phrase “IB Physics Internal Assessment” below it in a smaller font. Nothing else.
  • Do not put your name and candidate number anywhere on your internal assessment.
  • Your cover page is not included as a page in your internal assessment.
  • Give a “catchy” personal story as to why you are interested in this research question.
  • State the key physics concepts and define them well.
  • State the physics equation(s) and define each variable.
  • Insert an image or two to be more clear.
  • This section should have only one sentence: your research question with a question mark at the end.
  • Your research question needs to be easy to find. This is why the title of your internal assessment is also your research question.
  • Make a list of the independent variable(s), the dependent variable(s), and the controlled variable(s).
  • Make a clear list of the materials you will use in your internal assessment.
  • Have one image of all your materials in it. Clearly label your materials on the image.
  • Make a list of steps to conduct the investigation.
  • Insert an image of your lab setup.
  • If there are no ethical and/or safety concerns regarding your internal assessment then write something like “there are no ethical and safety concerns when conducting this investigation.”
  • You need a five by five table here. This table will give enough raw data to obtain processed data. It will look something like the table below:

astrophysics extended essay topics

  • You need to process your raw data. It will look something like the table below:
  • Also include a clear graph with labeled axes and uncertainties. There are many videos online which will teach you how to do this  like this one . It will look something like the graph below:

astrophysics extended essay topics

  • What conclusion(s) can you make from your processed data?
  • List as many errors and limitations you can think of. Go into detail for each one.
  • The “buzz words” your teacher wants to see in this section are “random errors,” “systematic errors,” “high/low accuracy,” and “high/low precision.”
  • List as many suggested methods for improvement you can think of. Go into detail for each one!
  • Most internal assessments have only one resource in their bibliography. That is enough for an internal assessment.
  • You need to learn how to cite correctly. Ask your English teacher for information about this. The  Purdue OWL  website is a great resource for this.
  • If you have too many raw data tables, processed data tables, and/or graphs then consider adding an appendix section.
  • The appendix section is not counted as part of the 12 pages for the internal assessment.

100 Internal Assessment Ideas for IB Physics

300 Stimulating Ideas for IB Physics Practical Investigations and EE’s

Skillful Writing of an Awful Research Paper

Internal Assessment Mark Scheme 2024

Internal Assessment Mark Scheme 2025

IB Physics Extended Essay

The IB physics extended essay is all about showing the IBO that you know how to write a research paper.

You need to choose a research question which is interesting enough to you which will motivate you to read research papers on it.

The extended essay needs many resources in the bibliography. Six would be a minimum number. Aim for double digits.

The IB physics internal assessment may have only one independent variable with one five by five table but the extended essay may have two or more independent variables with two or more five by five tables. In other words you may conduct more labs and obtain more data when completing a physics extended essay than a physics internal assessment.

Ask your teacher for samples of the extended essay. If he/she can’t provide any for you then go online and try to find some. If that doesn’t work then e-mail me at  [email protected]  and I can send you a few.

Suggestions for Students

Respect physics by giving it a lot of thought and time. You can’t learn physics concepts quickly. It took thousands of scientists thousands of years to come up with the knowledge in your physics textbook. Don’t think you can learn this information easily and painlessly.

You can visualize most physics concepts. There are a ton of videos on physics experiments online. Spend a lot of time learning and visualizing the concepts in physics.

Watch and take notes on all 52 videos of  The Mechanical Universe . I am confident you will fall in love with this video series.

Physics is not math. You are not equation hunting to solve problems. You need to know exactly “what is going on in the physical universe” to solve physics problems with more confidence.

Go through as many examples and complete as many problems as possible before taking a test. Buy a copy of Schaum’s Outlines of College Physics. You can also find this online in pdf format.

Understand the  Learning Pyramid  well. Lectures, reading, audio/visual, and demonstrations are all great to learn a topic during the beginning but you must make sure that you have the experience of group discussions, practice by doing, and teaching others to make sure that you have completely understood the topic before being tested on it.

Opportunities to Teach Abroad

Go to the websites below to search for teaching opportunities.

Is there a broken link? Would you like me to add a website? Please contact me at  [email protected]  and I will edit this page as soon as I can hopefully.


acgedu.com  ACG Schools

seek.com.au  SEEK

teacherappointments.com.au  Teacher Appointments

teachnz.govt.nz  TeachNZ


amisa.us  American International Schools in the Americas


tuis.uz  (Uzbekistan)

abroadchina.org  Abroad China

cafe.anesl.com/joblist.aspx  Angelina’s ESL Cafe

chinajob.com  Chinajob

dipont.com  Dipont Education

echinacities.com  eChinacities

goayc.org  Ambassador Year in China Program

jobsitechina.com/jobs/index.aspx  Jobsite China

teachcn.com  teachcn

willexceltesol.com/main.htm  Will-Excel TESOL Institute

aclipse.net  Aclipse

goldstarteachers.com  Gold Star TEFL Recruitment

hesseducation.com  HESS (China, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam)

hr.esldewey.com  Dewey (Taiwan)

jobsdb.com  JobsDB by SEEK (Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand)

jobstreet.com  JobStreet by Seek (Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam)

reachtoteachrecruiting.com  Reach to Teach

cetp.info  Central European Teaching Program

educationcareers.ie  Education Careers (Ireland)

gumtree.com  Gumtree (United Kingdom)

hays.co.uk  Hays (United Kingdom)

eccteachinjapan.com  ECC Foreign Language Institute

ohayosensei.com  O-Hayo Sensei: The Newsletter of (Teaching) Jobs in Japan

westgatejapan.com  Westgate Corporation


adek.gov.ae  Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge

amideast.org  Amideast

bayt.com  Bayt

canadianipgroup.com  Canadian IP Group

forteseducation.com  Fortes Education

founditgulf.com  foundit

gulftalent.com  GulfTalent

skylinetechsolutions.com  Skyline Global Solutions

teachmideast.org  TeachMideast

ajarn.com  Ajarn


academickeys.com  Academic Keys

careerjet.com  Careerjet

carneysandoe.com  Carney Sandoe & Associates

chronicle.com  The Chronicle of Higher Education

dodea.edu  Department of Defense Education Activity

educationjobsite.com  Education Job Site

hound.com  Hound

insidehighered.com  Inside Higher Ed

indeed.com/worldwide  Indeed

jobrapido.com  jobrapido

jobvertise.com  Jobvertise

randstadusa.com  Randstad

simplyhired.com  SimplyHired

trovit.com  Trovit

usajobs.gov  USAJOBS

usnlx.com  National Labor Exchange

academicsltd.co.uk  Academics

americantesol.com/teaching-english-worldwide-tesol.htm  American TESOL Institute

careerjet.com/siteshttps://www.careerjet.com/sites  Careerjet

careers.nais.org/search.cfm  National Association of Independent Schools

cied.georgetown.edu/programs/english-language-programs/#  Center of Intercultural Education and Development

cobis.org.uk  Council of British International Schools

edufind.info  Edufind

edvectus.com  Edvectus

english1.com/?redirect=trt  English First

english-schools.org  World Wide Schools

eslbase.com  ESL Base

eslcafe.com  ESL Cafe

eslemployment.com  ESL Employment

esljobs.com  ESL Jobs

esljobs.biz  ESL Jobs

esljobsboard.com  ESL Jobs Board

eslspace.com  ESL Space

expatriates.com  Expatriates

flyteachers.com  Fly Teachers

footprintsrecruiting.com  Footprints Recruiting

gabbitas.com  Gabbitas

galvineducation.com  Galvin Education

gooverseas.com  Go Overseas

hays.com  Hays

higheredjobs.com/Default.cfm  Higher Ed Jobs

ibo.org/jobs-and-careers/  IBO

idealist.org  Idealist

ihteachenglish.com/jobs  International House

international-schools-database.com  International Schools Database

ischooladvisor.com  International School Advisor

iss.edu  International Schools Services

jobs.theguardian.com  The Guardian

jobsineducation.com  Jobs in Education

joyjobs.com  Joy Jobs

learn4good.com  Learn4Good

m2rglobal.com  m2r Education

marksesl.com  Mark’s ESL World

mosaicaeducation.com  Mosaic Education

nordanglia.com  Nord Anglia

oasisis.org  OASIS International Schools

onestopenglish.com  One Stop English

peacecorps.gov  Peace Corps

qsi.org  Quality Schools International

redteachers.com  Red Teachers

reed.co.uk  Reed

sabis.net  Sabis

schrole.com  Schrole

searchassociates.com  Search Associates

seekteachers.com  Seek Teachers

seriousteachers.com  Serious Teachers

teachanywhere.com  Teach Anywhere

teachaway.com  Teach Away

teacherhorizons.com  Teacher Horizons

teachingabroaddirect.co.uk  Teaching Abroad

teachingnomad.com  Teaching Nomad

tefl.com  TEFL

tefl.net  TEFL

tes.com/jobs/browse/international  Times Education Supplement

ticrecruitment.com  Teachers International Consultancy Recruitment

tieonline.com  The International Educator

timeshighereducation.co.uk  Times Higher Education

topschooljobs.org  Top School Jobs

totalesl.com  Total ESL

unitedplanet.org  United Planet

university-directory.eu  University Directory

universityjobs.com  University Jobs

vergemagazine.com  Verge Magazine

weneedteachers.com  We Need Teachers

workabroad.ph  Work Abroad

world.wallstreetenglish.com/login  Wall Street English

worldteach.org  World Teach

worldteachers.net  World Teachers

I am an IB math and IB physics teacher. 

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

Please contact me at [email protected]

This website and the worksheets are not affiliated with the IBO. 

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Research Topics

Scientists and engineers at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian collaborate across a broad variety of scientific disciplines, from astronomy and astrophysics to related areas of physics and geophysics, in advancing humanity’s understanding of the universe. Learn more about the full spectrum of research covered at the CfA.

Logo for BCcampus Open Publishing

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

19 Selected Topics in Astrophysics

  • Video to Watch: Mechanical Universe – Episode 9 – Moving in Circles
  • Extra Help: A-Level Physics Tutor
  • Article to Read:  Space is a Busy Place and Canada Needs to Be There

Equations Introduced or Used in this Topic:


  • [latex]R=\dfrac{2GM}{{c}^2}[/latex]
  • [latex]\Delta E_p=-\dfrac{Gm_1{m}_2}{t}[/latex]
  • [latex]T=2\pi\sqrt{\dfrac{r^3}{GM}}[/latex]
  • [latex]M, M_o, m_1, m_2[/latex] is the Mass of the object, measured in kilograms (kg)
  • [latex]v_{esc}[/latex] is the Speed that an object needs to permanently escape the gravitational field of a body, measured in metres per second (m/s)
  • [latex]r[/latex] is the Radius of the orbit, measured in metres (m)
  • [latex]T[/latex] is the Period of Orbit, measured in seconds (s)
  • [latex]G[/latex] is Newton’s Gravitational Constant, currently estimated to be 6.67408(31) × 10 −11 Nm 2 /kg 2
  • [latex]∆V[/latex]  is the Gravitational Potential of a mass measured in joules per kilogram (J/kg)
  • [latex]d[/latex] or [latex]d_o[/latex] is the Distance away from the Mass Centre of a Body (gravitational field) or the Distance between Mass Centres of Two Bodies (gravitational fields), measured in metres (m)
  • [latex]v_{esc}[/latex] is the Escape Velocity needed to escape the body in metres per second (m/s)
  • [latex]r_o[/latex] is the Distance away from the object’s mass centre in metres (m)
  • [latex]c[/latex] is the speed of light in meters per second (2.9979 × 10 8 m/s)
  • [latex]R_s[/latex] is the Schwarzschild radius or the event horizon of the black hole
  • [latex]T[/latex] is the period of orbit of the satellite measured in meters per second (m/s)
  • [latex]r[/latex] is the Orbital Distance between mass centres in metres (m)

One of the challenges of placing satellites in orbit or in manned space missions is the problem of recent human ventures into space, from the planned and protested 2007 Chinese destruction of a satellite to multiple accidental collisions of satellites and space debris.

As of July 2016, the United States Strategic Command tracked a total of 17 852 artificial Earth orbit objects. As of January 2019 an estimated 129 million bits of debris were thought to be in orbit around the Earth.

As the number of these bits of debris increases, there exists the risk that the Earth’s orbit will become impassable due to the risk of collisions. Space debris is suspected or known to have damaged or destroyed over nine satellites to date.

The Shuttle Endeavour impact from debris is shown below.

astrophysics extended essay topics

19.1 Escape Velocity

Escape Velocity is the minimum speed needed for an object to permanently escape the influence of the gravitational force of a body, such as a planet, moon or star. The first such object launched from the Earth to achieve escape velocity did so on January 2nd, 1959, launched by the former USSR from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It eventually reached an orbit around the Sun between the planets Earth and Mars.

The escape velocity equation can be algebraically derived from the conservation of mechanical energy combined with the equation for gravitational field strength. The use of the term “velocity” for this phenomenon is inaccurate, since only speed is required in any direction that does not intersect or return to the body it is escaping from. There are two conditions to look at when using the escape velocity equation:

  • the launch velocity is equal to the escape velocity, and
  • the launch velocity is greater than the escape velocity.

If the launch velocity is equal to the escape velocity, then the object will continue to move away from the body it was launched from, continually slowing but never reaching 0 m/s as it moves to an infinite distance away. The equation defining this is:

  • [latex]v_{esc}[/latex] = is the Escape Velocity needed to escape the body in m/s
  • [latex]G[/latex] = 6.671 × 10 −11 Nm 2 /kg 2
  • [latex]M_o[/latex] = The Mass of the object in kg
  • [latex]r_o[/latex] = The Distance away from the object’s mass centre in m

If the initial launch velocity is greater than the escape velocity, then the objects final velocity as it escapes the body can be calculated using the following equation:

[latex]E_{kf}= E_{ki} − E_{k\ esc}[/latex] which simplifies to [latex]{v_f}^2 ={v_i}^2-{v_{esc}}^2[/latex]     (all velocities are in m/s).

Using the conservation of mechanical energy, one is able to derive the escape velocity equation:

This looks like… [latex]E_{ki}+ E_{pi}= E_{pf}+ E_{kf}[/latex] where [latex](E_{pf}+ E_{kf})=0[/latex] which means that [latex]E_{ki}+E_{pi}=0[/latex]

Further simplification is done by substitution, using the gravitational Potential Energy equation that is needed to escape a gravitational field for [latex]E_{pi}[/latex], specifically:  [latex]E_{pi}=-\dfrac{Gm_1{m}_2}{r}[/latex]


Since [latex]E_{ki}=\dfrac{1}{2}{mv}_i^2[/latex]…

[latex]\dfrac{1}{2}{mv}_i^2- \dfrac{Gm_1{m}_2}{r}=0[/latex]

This changes to…


Cancelling the mass escaping the gravitational field and multiplying out the ½ fraction yields:


When removing the square and replacing the initial velocity (vi) with the escape velocity (vesc), the equation in its final form is:


This equation allows one to calculate the velocity of any object to escape the gravitational field of a body.

Example 19.1.1

What is the escape velocity for a rocket at an orbital distance of 60 km above the Moon’s surface?

First… [latex]r_o[/latex] = 60 km + 1.737 × 10 6 m or 1.797 × 10 6 m

  • [latex]v_{esc}=\sqrt{\dfrac{2{Gm}_o}{r_o}}[/latex]
  • [latex]v_{esc}=\sqrt{\dfrac{2(6.67\times10^{-11}\text{ Nm}^2\text{/kg}^2)(7.349\times10^{30}\text{ kg})}{(1.797\times10^{11}\text{ m})}}[/latex]
  • [latex]v_{esc}[/latex] = 2340 m/s

Example 19.1.2

What is the escape velocity for a rocket (at the same distance as Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun) to permanently leave the influence of the Sun’s gravitational field?

  • [latex]v_{esc}=\sqrt{\dfrac{2(6.67\times10^{-11}\text{ Nm}^2\text{/kg}^2)(1.9891\times10^{30}\text{ kg})}{(7.7833\times10^{11}\text{ m})}}[/latex]
  • [latex]v_{esc}[/latex] = 18 500 m/s

Example 19.1.3

What is the final speed of a rocket that leaves the orbit of Mars (180 km above the Martian surface) with a speed of 8.4 km/s, if it heads on a path directly away from the Sun?  (Find the escape velocity from Mars, ignore the Sun and solve using Conservation of Mechanical Energy.)

First… [latex]r_o[/latex] = 180 km + 3.390 × 10 6 m or 3.57 × 10 6 m

  • [latex]v_{esc}=\sqrt{\dfrac{2{Gm}_o}{{r}_o}}[/latex]
  • [latex]v_{esc}=\sqrt{\dfrac{2(6.67\times10^{-11}\text{ Nm}^2\text{/kg}^2)(6.419\times10^{23}\text{ kg})}{(3.57\times10^{6}\text{ m})}}[/latex]
  • [latex]v_{esc}[/latex] = 4900  m/s

Using the Conservation of Mechanical Energy…

  • [latex]E_{kf} = E_{ki} - \Delta E_{\text{k esc}}[/latex]
  • [latex]\dfrac{1}{2}{mv}_f^2=\dfrac{1}{2}{mv}_i^2-\dfrac{1}{2}{mv}_{esc}^2[/latex]… Cancel out the common mass and ½

We get… [latex]v_f^2 = v_i^2 − v_{esc}^2[/latex]

  • [latex]v_f^2 = (8400 \text{ m/s})^2 − (4900 \text{ m/s})^2[/latex]… [latex]v_f[/latex] = 6820 m/s

Example 19.1.4

Derive the Gravitational Potential Energy Equation using the relationship between work and change in energy and gravitational force equation.


  • [latex]\text{Work (W) }= F_{net} \cdot \;\vec{\text{d}}[/latex] or [latex]\vec{F_{net}}d \vec{\text{cos ø}}[/latex] and [latex]\vec{F_g}=\dfrac{Gm_1{m}_2}{d^2}[/latex]
  • Work ([latex]W[/latex]) = Δ Energy equals [latex]F_{\text{net}} d \cos ø[/latex], where [latex]F_{\text{net}} = F_g[/latex] or [latex]\dfrac{Gm_1{m}_2}{d^2}[/latex]

When combined becomes… ΔEnergy = [latex]\dfrac{Gm_1{m}_2}{{d}^2} d \cos ø[/latex]

Cancelling the common d and having [latex]\cos ø = 1[/latex], leaves us with…

  • ΔEnergy = [latex]\dfrac{Gm_1{m}_2}{d}[/latex]

The final version looks like… [latex]\Delta E_p=-\dfrac{Gm_1{m}_2}{d}[/latex]

The negative sign comes from ∆ Energy = − Work done by gravitational force (attractive).

Exercise 19.1

  • What is the escape velocity for a rocket at an orbital distance of 300 km above the Earth’s surface?
  • What is the escape velocity for a rocket (at the same distance as Earth orbit around the Sun) to permanently leave the influence of the Sun’s gravitational field?
  • What is the final speed of a rocket that leaves the orbit of the Earth (300 km above the Earth’s surface) with a speed of 14.2 km/s, if it is directed on a path ahead of the Earth as it orbits the Sun? (This means we can ignore the effect of the Sun’s gravity. Assume that the moon is on the other side of the Earth.)
  • How far would a satellite be from the Earth if the escape velocity needed to escapes the Earth’s gravity had fallen to 4200 m/s?
  • What is the difference in escape velocities from the Earth’s gravitational field for a rocket that has moved from its orbit at 330 km above the Earth’s surface to 1.0 million km away from the surface?

19.2 The Size of Black Holes

  • Article to Read: A Brief History of Black Holes
  • Article to Read: Great Collision could wake up the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s centre
  • In the News: Astronomers deliver first photo of black hole
  • Video to Watch: Katie Bouman – How to take a picture of a black hole
  • Extra Help: Black Hole Evaporation Time Calculator

astrophysics extended essay topics

The Schwarzschild radius (black hole event horizon) was calculated by Karl Schwarzschild in 1916 from his exact solution of Einstein’s General Relativity Equation.

This radius is given as R s = [latex]\dfrac{2GM}{{c}^2}[/latex]

The derivation of the black hole radius equation is found by using the escape velocity equation where v esc = c. In this case, the equation is solved for when light itself cannot escape the gravitational influence of the black hole.

The size of a black hole could be as small as an atom (primordial) and contain the mass of a large mountain [1] . Other types of black holes are classified as stellar and could have a mass of twenty times the mass of our Sun [solar mass, Mo = (1.988 55 ± 0.000 25) × 1030 kg] and it is expected that many of these black holes exist in our own galaxy. The largest of the black holes bears the name supermassive [2]   and is expected to contain the mass of one million or more solar masses. Evidence has been found that indicates the centre of every large galaxy has its own supermassive black hole. Our galaxy’s supermassive black hole has been estimated to contain 4.3 million solar mass and has been given the name Sagittarius A.

Black holes cannot be seen since light cannot escape from them. However they can be detected by observing the gas and stars that orbit them. Black holes have also been detected by the light that bends when passing by them and also from x-rays that are emitted by objects falling into the black hole.

The simple derivation of the Schwarzschild radius is done using the escape velocity equation and substituting the speed of light c for the escape velocity v esc and in replacing r o with the Schwarzschild radius R s .

[latex]v_{esc}=\sqrt{\dfrac{2GM_o}{r_o}}[/latex] then becomes c = [latex]\sqrt{\dfrac{2GM_o}{R_s}}[/latex]

Squaring both sides of this equation yields: [latex]c^2=\dfrac{2GM_o}{R_s}[/latex]

Cross multiplying [latex]c^2[/latex] and [latex]R_s[/latex] yields…


On April 10, 2019 scientists for 40 different nations released the first actual photo of a black hole culminating an effort of over 13 years. This photo (shown below) is of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy and was accomplished using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) [3] .  The known details of this black hole include that it is located approximately 53.5 million light years away and has a mass of around 6.5 billion suns. The size of this black hole and its accretion disk (orbiting ring of hot matter) has an estimated diameter of 100 million km.

astrophysics extended essay topics

  • Article to Read: The perplexing physics of imaging a black hole
  • Video to Watch: The strange fate of a person falling into a black hole
  • In the News: Milky Way’s black hole just flared, growing 75 times as bright for a few hours

While some folks describe the black hole image as a shiny, glazed donut, astrophysicists note that it is slightly asymmetric, which is due to the tilt of the accretion disk. Doppler shifts are also present in this image, where the bright side represents matter moving towards us and the darker side where the matter is moving away. Another challenge is that this image is only visible in certain ranges.  If observed too low or too high, the black hole image is obscured by the plasma surrounding it. The best wavelength to use to see through everything obscuring the black hole from view was that of microwaves at 230 GHz or 1.3 mm. This requirement necessitated a global collaboration to use telescopes in multiple settings on Earth to make the largest telescope possible. This allowed for astrophysicists to get the resolution needed to see an object that had an angular dimension of 40 microarcseconds.

The image currently being shared results from the conversion of microwaves into visible wavelengths. If one were to attempt to see this using a visible light telescope, they would not succeed. The image below shows the location of this black hole at the centre of M87.

astrophysics extended essay topics

Example 19.2.1

To what size would the Moon have to shrink to become a Black Hole?

  • [latex]R_s=\dfrac{2GM}{{c}^2}[/latex]
  • [latex]R_s=\dfrac{2(6.67\times10^{-11}\text{ Nm}^2\text{/kg}^2)(7.349\times10^{22}\text{ kg})}{(3.00\times10^8)^2}[/latex]
  • [latex]R_s[/latex] = 0.00011 m or 1.1 × 10 −4 m

Example 19.2.2

To what size would Jupiter have to shrink to become a Black Hole?

  • [latex]R_s=\dfrac{2(6.67\times10^{-11}\text{ Nm}^2\text{/kg}^2)(1.899\times10^{27}\text{ kg})}{(3.00\times10^8)^2}[/latex]
  • [latex]R_s[/latex] = 2.81 m

Example 19.2.3

What is the radius of the super massive Black Hole at the centre of our Galaxy? Its mass is estimated to be 4.3 million solar masses.

  • [latex]R_s=\dfrac{2(6.67\times10^{-11}\text{ Nm}^2\text{/kg}^2)(1.899\times10^{27}\text{ kg})(4.3\times10^6)}{(3.00\times10^8)^2}[/latex]
  • [latex]R_s[/latex] = 1.21 × 10 10 m

Exercise 19.2

  • To what size would the Earth have to shrink to become a Black Hole?
  • To what size would the Sun have to shrink to become a Black Hole?
  • The largest Black Hole discovered to date is the Supermassive Black Hole found at the centre of NGC 127788. If the estimated mass of this Black Hole is around 12 Billion Solar Masses what should its radius be?
  • What would be the mass of a Black Hole having a radius of the average height of a tall person of 2.0 m?
  • What would be the difference in gravitational field strength experienced by a 210 m long spaceship at a distance of 10 km from the centre of the Sun if it were a Black Hole? This would be the gravity acting at both ends of the spaceship.  Could a 2.0 m astronaut survive this? (A science fiction novel was written about a similar situation.)

19.3 Orbital Mechanics

  • Article to Read: Williams, M. (2018-05-10) Jupiter and Venus Change Earth’s Orbit Every 405,000 Years
  • Article to Read: Witze, A. (2018) The quest to conquer Earth’s space junk problem
  • Article to Read: SpaceX gets nod to put 12,000 satellites in orbit
  • Article to Read: Enormous dwarf satellite galaxy of Milky Way discovered

astrophysics extended essay topics

Orbital Mechanics is the field concerning the motion of spacecraft orbiting objects in space, and the motion of any space-based object in an orbit, trapped in a gravitational field. For simplicity’s sake, we shall only consider circular orbits.

The physics used in working with circular orbits in space comes from gravitational force [latex]F_g[/latex] and centripetal force [latex]F_c[/latex]. What is done for this derivation is to equate these two forces, specifically:

[latex]F_g = F_c[/latex]


Since d and r are equivalent and m 2 and m are also equivalent, they can be cancelled out as common, which leaves us with:


Since we will be solving for orbits, we will use the more common r for the radius of the orbit rather than d.

Calculating the speed of the satellite in orbit involves using:

[latex]v[/latex] = [latex]\dfrac{2\pi r}{T}\begin{array}{l}\text{... (distance)}\\ \text{... (time for one complete orbit)}\end{array}[/latex]

Which for [latex]v^2[/latex] yields: [latex]v^2[/latex] = [latex]\dfrac{4\pi^2r^2}{T^2}[/latex]

Replacing [latex]v^2[/latex] in the equation: [latex]\dfrac{Gm_1}{d}={v}^2[/latex]

Yields… [latex]\dfrac{Gm_1}{d}=\dfrac{4\pi^2r^2}{T^2}[/latex]

Isolating [latex]T^2[/latex] yields: [latex]{T}^2=\dfrac{4\pi^2r^2}{Gm_1}[/latex]

Taking the square root of both sides leaves us with…

  • [latex]T[/latex] = [latex]2\pi\sqrt{\dfrac{r^3}{Gm}}[/latex]

As you can see from the structure of this equation, it belongs to the family of simple harmonic equations used in Labs 4 and 5.

[latex]T[/latex] = [latex]2\pi\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{g}}[/latex]                    [latex]T[/latex] = [latex]2\pi\sqrt{\dfrac{m}{k}}[/latex]

Example 19.3.1

What is the period of orbit of the Martian moon Phobos (use r = 9 377 km… its semi-major axis) around Mars?

  • [latex]T[/latex] = [latex]2\pi\sqrt{\dfrac{(9.377\times10^6\text{ m})^3}{(6.67\times10^{-11}\text{ Nm}^2\text{/kg}^2)(6.419\times10^{23}\text{ kg})}}[/latex]
  • [latex]T[/latex] = 27 600 s

Example 19.3.2

What is the period of orbit of Venus around the Sun?

  • [latex]T[/latex] = [latex]2\pi\sqrt{\dfrac{(1.082\times10^{11}\text{ m})^3}{(6.67\times10^{-11}\text{ Nm}^2\text{/kg}^2)(1.9891\times10^{30}\text{ kg})}}[/latex]
  • [latex]T[/latex] = 1.94 × 10 7  s

Example 19.3.3

What is the period of orbit of the Space Shuttle at an orbit of 280 km above the Earth’s surface?

First… [latex]r[/latex] = 280 km + 6.371 × 10 6 m or 6.65 × 10 6 m

  • [latex]T[/latex] = 5400 s

Exercise 19.3

  • What is the period of orbit of the Moon around the Earth?
  • What is the period of orbit of the Earth around the Sun?
  • What is the period of orbit of the International Space Station at its lowest orbit of 330 km above the Earth’s surface?
  • What would be the difference in the orbital radii of two Earth satellites where one has a period of 2.0 h and the other 6.0 h?
  • Astronomers are analyzing two Black Holes that are in close orbit around each other. If the smaller 2019 Elara (10 Solar Masses) has a period of 19 days to orbit the larger 2016 Jasnah (30 Solar Masses), what distance separates them?

19.4.1 Geosynchronous Satellites

  • Article to Read: High-flying pseudosatellites get their day in the sun
  • Article to Read:  China Plans To Build The World’s First Solar Power Station In Space

Geosynchronous Satellites, are satellites in geosynchronous orbit with an orbital period the same as the Earth’s rotation period. Such a satellite returns to the same position in the sky after each sidereal day. A special case of geosynchronous satellite is the geostationary satellite, which has a geostationary orbit – a circular geosynchronous orbit directly above the Earth’s equator.

Geostationary satellites appear to be fixed over one spot above the equator. Receiving and transmitting antennas on the Earth do not need to track such a satellite. These antennas can be fixed in place and are much less expensive than tracking antennas. These satellites have revolutionized global communications, television broadcasting and weather forecasting, and have a number of important defense and intelligence applications.

astrophysics extended essay topics

One disadvantage of geostationary satellites is  the result of their high altitude: radio signals take approximately 0.25 of a second to reach and return from the satellite resulting in a small but significant signal delay.  This delay increases the difficulty of telephone conversation and reduces the performance of common network protocols such as TCP/IP but does not present a problem with non-interactive systems such as television broadcasts.  Another unusual feature is that time is distorted by the difference in the gravitational field strength on the Earth’s surface and at the geosynchronous orbit. This time difference amounts to 45 µs each day which means that data such as that used for GPS navigation must be updated on a regular basis to keep the information coming from these satellites accurate.

Another disadvantage of geostationary satellites is the incomplete geographical coverage, since ground stations at higher than roughly 60 degrees latitude have difficulty reliably receiving signals at low elevations.  Satellite dishes at such high latitudes would need to be pointed almost directly towards the horizon.  The signals would have to pass through the largest amount of atmosphere and could even be blocked by land topography, vegetation or buildings.

  • Article to Read:  Audacious & Outrageous: Space Elevators
  • Article to Read: A colossal elevator to space could be going up sooner than you ever imagined

One of the greatest future prospects in using geosynchronous orbiting stations is that of placing the hub of a space elevator in that position.  China could build this by 2045, to enormous commercial benefit. This could see the cost of placing objects into geosynchronous orbit drop from around $22 000 per kilogram to $1.50 per kilogram.

The idea of a space elevator was first proposed in 1895 by a Russian scientist named Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who, inspired by the Eiffel tower, speculated on constructing a similar tower to use as a base on Earth for a space elevator. The limitation of such an idea, which now appear to have been resolved by the development of carbon nanotube technology (CNT), have been in the design needs of the space cable itself. Current production of carbon nanotubes is restricted to the lengths that can be produced in a laboratory, but as work in this area continues, CNT should produce a cable of the required length and diameter within a few decades. Space travel looks to be entering a new future with possibilities previously imagined in Science Fiction.

Exercise 19.4.1

  • At what distance above the Earth’s surface would a geostationary satellite hub for a space elevator orbit?

19.4.2 Artificial Gravity in Space

Weightlessness over extended periods of time have been found to have quite harmful effects on human physiology; including loss of bone density (Spaceflight osteopenia), in which astronauts lose 1%+ of bone mass per month in space, risking irreversible skeletal damage and muscular atrophy.  Weightlessness also slows cardiovascular system functions, decreases the production of red blood cells, causes balance disorders, and weakens the immune system.  Lesser symptoms include fluid redistribution inside the body, disrupted vision, loss of taste, loss of body mass, nasal congestion, and sleep disturbance, among other problems.  Predicting problems in zero g environments, Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley in 1952 proposed a rotating space ship that could simulate gravity using centripetal force.  Their ship design included a 38 metre wheel that could rotate at 3 rpm, providing a [latex]\frac{1}{3}[/latex] g gravity for a crew of 80.  One of the potential problems of rotating spaceships is that astronauts would experience less artificial gravity the closer they got to the centre of the rotating ship.  This means that their head and feet would experience different gravities and would cause a Coriolis force for the human ear, which would cause dizziness, nausea and disorientation.

astrophysics extended essay topics

Exercise 19.4.2

  • Given a 3 rpm rotation and a [latex]r[/latex] = 38 m for the feet and [latex]r[/latex] = 36 m for the head calculate the difference in simulated gravity between the head and the feet of these astronauts.

19.4.3 Measuring the Mass of the Sun

astrophysics extended essay topics

Exercise 19.4.3

  • Given that it takes the Earth 365.265 days to orbit the Sun and that the average radius of orbit is 1.4960 × 10 11 m, estimate the mass of the Sun.

19.4.4 The Most Distant World Visited – Arrokoth

  • Article to Read: Witze, A. (2018) Most distant world ever visited is shaped like a peanut
  • Article to Read: NASA Names Most Distant Object Ever Explored ‘Arrokoth’, the Powhatan Word for Sky

On January 1st, 2019, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft at a distance of 3500 km flew past 2014 MU69 which accordingly is at a distance of 5.5 billion km (Wired Magazine) to 6.5 billion km (Nature Magazine) away from Earth, depending on the news source. Arrokoth (First Named as Ultima Thule) can be most accurately described as a rotating bowling pin 32 km long and 16 km wide. The complete download of data from the Horizon’s spacecraft is expected to take some 20 months, finishing by September 2020.

astrophysics extended essay topics

Example 19.4.4

  • Given consistent reports that Arrokoth takes a little over 298 years to orbit the Sun, what average orbital distance from the two different sources above is more accurate?

Exercise Answers

  • [latex]v_{esc}[/latex] = 10 900 m/s or 10.9 km/s
  • [latex]v_{esc}[/latex] = 42 120 m/s or 42.1 km/s
  • [latex]v_f[/latex] = 9.1 km/s
  • 3.88 × 107 m above Earth’s surface
  • [latex]\Delta v_{esc}[/latex] = 10 020 m/s  (≈ 20.0 km/s)
  • [latex]R_s[/latex] = 0.0089 m or 8.9 mm
  • [latex]R_s[/latex] = 2953 m or 2.95 km
  • [latex]R_s[/latex] = 3.54 × 10 13 m (A little under 8 times Neptune’s orbit)
  • 1.35 × 10 27 kg
  • For the Ship… 5.4 × 10 10 m/s 2 (≈ 5.5 billion gravities difference) For the Astronaut 5.3 × 10 8 m/s 2 (≈ 53 million gravities difference)
  • [latex] T[/latex] = 2.37 × 10 6 s or 27.5 days
  • [latex]T[/latex] = 3.16 × 10 7 s or 365.3 days
  • [latex]T[/latex] = 5460 s or 1.52 h
  • 1.606 × 10 7 m  (≈ 16 000 km)
  • [latex]r[/latex] = 1.2 × 10 11 m
  • [latex]d[/latex] = 35 900 km above the Earth’s surface
  • [latex]\Delta g[/latex] = 0.20 m/s 2 or ≈ 0.02 g’s
  • [latex]m_s[/latex] = 1.989 × 10 30 kg
  • [latex]r[/latex] = 6.7 × 10 12 m or 6.7 billion km

Media Attributions

  • “ STS-118 debris entry ” by NASA is in the public domain .
  • “ agujero negro absorbiendo una estrella ” by elhombredenegro is licensed under a CC BY 2.0 licence .
  • “ Black hole ” by Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration , for non-commercial educational and public information purposes only.
  • “ Black hole X-ray ” by NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen, for non-commercial educational and public information purposes only.
  • “ Space station over Earth ” by NASA , for non-commercial uses only.
  • “Syncom3 – First Geostationary Communications Satellite” by NASA , for non-commercial uses only.
  • “ Von Braun’s Early Wheel Space Station Concept ” by NASA , for non-commercial uses only.
  • “Sun” by NASA , for non-commercial uses only.
  • “Early Data Return: LORRI” by John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/NASA, for non-commercial educational and public information purposes only,
  • Stephen Hawking predicted the primordial black holes could be as small as 10 −8 kg. ↵
  • Scientists think the primordial black holes formed when the universe began. Stellar black holes are made when the centre of a very big star falls in upon itself, or collapses. When this happens, it causes a supernova. A supernova is an exploding star that blasts part of the star into space. Scientists think supermassive black holes were made at the same time as the galaxy they are in. ↵
  • Event Horizon Telescope: https://eventhorizontelescope.org ↵

Foundations of Physics Copyright © by Terrance Berg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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astrophysics extended essay topics


Extended Essay Writers

extended essay blog

How to Write a Physics Extended Essay? A Guide for IB Students

Theoretical Physics extended essay go into concepts that rely heavily on mathematical models.

Luke MacQuoid

In my years of experience as an IB writer, I’ve come to appreciate the nuances and depth of the Physics extended essay. It is an opportunity for IB students to showcase their knowledge and passion for this subject.

Today, I’d like to share my insights and help guide you on how to write a compelling and well-structured Physics extended essay .

Understanding the Physics Extended Essay Requirements

According to general IB criteria, this work has specific guidelines that students must adhere to, ensuring they remain within the Physics extended essay requirements:

  • Ensure your topic is rooted in Physics. It should focus on experimental work, though some theoretical essays are acceptable if they tackle unconventional issues.
  • While the word limit for the essay is 4,000 words, I’ve often observed that the most impactful papers are concise and straight to the point.
  • A well-defined research question is at the heart of every essay. Ensure it’s precise and relevant to the Physics extended essay topics you’re considering.
  • If you’re leaning towards an experimental Physics extended essay, remember that your experiments should be replicable. They should also provide insights that can be extrapolated to real-world scenarios.

In conclusion, while the Physics extended essay might seem like a mountain to climb, it’s achievable with the proper guidance and a clear understanding of the requirements.

Choosing the Right Topic for Your Physics Extended Essay

Often, students ask me about the best Physics extended essay topics. I think choosing an option that truly resonates with your interests but also aligns with IB’s expectations is essential. It brings me to the specifics of the IB extended essay Physics topics , which get into detailed research scopes and can challenge your analytical skills.

Possible Extended Essay Topics in IB Physics

So, what are the possible extended essay topics in IB Physics ? Here are a few options for you to consider:

  • The Physics of Black Holes.
  • Quantum Entanglement and its Implications.
  • The Effects of Material and Thickness on Solar Cell Efficiency.
  • The Acoustic Properties of Different Woods.
  • Relativity in Modern GPS Systems.
  • The Physics Behind Magnetic Levitation Trains.
  • Fluid Dynamics in Sports.
  • The Correlation Between Altitude and Boiling Points of Liquids.
  • Thermoelectric Materials and their Potential in Waste Heat Recovery.
  • The Harmonics of String Instruments.

Think of areas in Physics that intrigue you: Quantum mechanics? AstroPhysics? Thermodynamics? The options are numerous, but the best topics align with your passion and the IB’s expectations.

Experimental Physics Extended Essay vs. Theoretical: What’s the Difference?

Ah, the age-old debate: Experimental or Theoretical? From my experience, this decision can make or break your essay. So, let’s break it down.

  • Experimental Physics . In essence, this approach is hands-on. It’s about setting up experiments, recording observations, and making inferences. If you enjoy the tangible aspects of Physics and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, this might be your calling.
  • Theoretical Physics . Now, this is where things get abstract. Theoretical Physics deepens into concepts, relying heavily on mathematical models and predictions. It’s less about “doing” and more about “thinking”. If abstract ideas and critical thinking excite you, this path might be the one for you.

In conclusion, always remember to stay true to your passions while adhering to the set standards. From what I know, the path might seem challenging, but the sense of accomplishment at the end is unparalleled!

Proper resources strengthen your research in Physics extended essay.

IB Physics Extended Essay: What Resources You Can Use

Taping into many resources is critical to strengthen your research and arguments. Here’s a comprehensive list that can guide you through this venture:

  • Primary Textbooks . These are the backbone of your foundational knowledge. But don’t just stick to your coursebook. Check advanced-level Physics textbooks for deeper insights.
  • Academic Journals . Google Scholar , JSTOR , and the American Physical Society’s journals offer up-to-date research findings and specialized knowledge.
  • University Libraries . Many institutions allow the public, especially students, access to their libraries. They can be gold mines for specialized books and research papers.
  • Online Platforms & Databases . You can use arXiv — a free distribution service and archive for preprints. NASA AstroPhysics Data System is also a perfect digital library portal for researchers in astronomy and Physics.
  • Research Institutions & Laboratories . Some institutes allow students to access their data or even conduct experiments. Examples are CERN, Fermilab, or local universities with robust Physics departments.
  • Educational Websites . Websites like Khan Academy or The Physics Classroom can elucidate complex topics.
  • Software & Simulation Tools . Use COMSOL MultiPhysics for modeling and simulating experiments. PhET Interactive Simulations offers free interactive math and science simulations.
  • Expert Interviews . Engaging with Physics professors, researchers, or professionals can offer unique insights. They might also point you to niche resources.
  • Seminars & Workshops . Attend these, especially ones that align with your essay topic. They offer cutting-edge insights and networking opportunities.
  • Your School’s Resources . Think about your school’s lab equipment, library, and, most importantly, your Physics teacher!
  • Peer-Reviewed Conferences . Look for published proceedings for the latest in Physics research.
  • Popular Science Books & Magazines . These can be used sparingly for general context or simply explaining complex concepts. Magazines like Scientific American or Physics Today might be helpful.

According to general IB criteria, while it’s essential to gather as much information as possible, always ensure the credibility of your sources. Cross-reference data and opt for primary over secondary sources.

The Structure of the Physics Extended Essay

Structuring your paper can make all the difference. Let’s discuss all parts of the Physics extended essay to ensure clarity and coherence.

1. The Informative Abstract

Venturing forward, you’d step into the abstract. Think of this as your elevator pitch, where you have around 300 words to present the crux of your research. Start by briefly explaining the purpose of your essay.

2. The All-Important Introduction

The introduction is your gateway to captivate the reader. Set the stage by introducing your topic and providing context. Why is it important? What real-world implications does it have? How does it tie into the larger world of Physics?

3. Methodology and Approach

Detail out the methods you’ve employed. Clarity is vital, whether it’s an experimental setup or a theoretical analysis. Describe your approach, any equipment used, variables considered, and how you collected data.

4. To the Body

It’s the heart of your essay. Analyze your findings, relate them to existing theories, and critically evaluate any discrepancies or anomalies. Break down complex concepts, ensuring they’re accessible to the reader. Use diagrams, graphs, or tables if they aid in understanding.

5. Conclusions and Reflections

Summarize your findings, reiterating their significance in the broader context of Physics. Reflect upon the entire research process, discussing your challenges and what you learned from them. Highlight potential areas for further research or unanswered questions that arose.

6. References and Bibliography

Every piece of information, data, or idea that isn’t original to you needs to be cited. Adhere to the citation style preferred by the IB and ensure consistency throughout.

astrophysics extended essay topics

Need help with your IB extended essay?

From research and analysis to structuring and editing, our skilled mentors will be by your side, helping you craft an exceptional extended essay that not only meets the wordcount and stringent IB criteria but also reflects your passion for selected IB group .

Writing the Perfect Experimental Physics Extended Essay

Ah, the realm of experimental Physics extended essay. Many students assume this is the most challenging assignment , but this is only sometimes the case. With the right approach, you can quickly reveal your topic and get the highest grade, so do not be afraid to experiment.

What Makes an Experimental Physics Extended Essay Stand Out?

Based on my experience, the most outstanding essays consistently demonstrate these characteristics:

  • They don’t just regurgitate known facts. They take risks, push novel ideas, or offer a fresh perspective on classic experiments.
  • It’s not just about noting observations but explaining why specific results were obtained, possibly linking to underlying Physics principles.
  • A standout essay meticulously details the experiment setup, ensuring reproducibility. Every step, from equipment calibration to data collection, is clearly articulated.
  • Beyond presenting results, these essays interpret data critically, drawing meaningful conclusions and suggesting further research areas.

Remember that the best essays often link findings to real-world applications or implications, showing a broader understanding of Physics in our daily lives.

Tips for a Successful Physics Extended Essay

Throughout my path as an IB tutor, I’ve picked up a few tricks of the trade that I believe can improve any paper:

  • Start Early . Physics, being a comprehensive subject, demands time for research, experimentation (if you’re doing an experimental essay), and analysis.
  • Pick a Manageable Topic . Getting into highly complex areas is tempting, but remember that depth trumps breadth. 
  • Align with Your Interests . Your enthusiasm will shine through in your writing. Choose a topic you’re genuinely curious about. 
  • Prioritize Your Research Question . It should be clear, focused, and researchable within the word limit. Avoid overly broad or vague questions.
  • Use Varied Resources . While textbooks are a good starting point, venture into academic journals, online databases, and expert interviews to gather diverse insights.
  • Stick to the IB Rubric . Familiarize yourself with the IB Physics extended essay criteria . This rubric will be your guiding light, ensuring you hit all the necessary points.
  • Draft, Revise, Repeat . Your first draft is unlikely to be your final one. Write, take a break, return with fresh eyes, revise, and repeat the cycle.
  • Maintain Academic Integrity . Cite all sources diligently. Plagiarism is a strict no-no in the IB world.
  • Understand the Theory . Even if you’re focusing on an experiment, grounding your observations in theoretical concepts is crucial. It shows a holistic understanding of the topic.
  • Maintain a Consistent Structure . Introduction, research question, body, analysis, conclusion, and references — maintaining this flow aids in readability and coherence.

Over the years, I’ve seen students get lost in the vastness of their chosen subjects, but with a straightforward question, you can remain focused. Lastly, avoid straying from the IB extended essay Physics guidelines. They’re there for a reason, and adhering to them can significantly boost your score.

So, writing the Physics extended essay is no small feat, but with the right approach and a sprinkle of dedication, it’s an enriching experience. Follow the guidelines, choose your topic wisely, and structure your essay well, and you’ll be on the path to success. Best of luck to you!

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Luke MacQuoid has extensive experience teaching English as a foreign language in Japan, having worked with students of all ages for over 12 years. Currently, he is teaching at the tertiary level. Luke holds a BA from the University of Sussex and an MA in TESOL from Lancaster University, both located in England. As well to his work as an IB Examiner and Master Tutor, Luke also enjoys sharing his experiences and insights with others through writing articles for various websites, including extendedessaywriters.com blog

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100 IB Extended Essay Topic Ideas!

astrophysics extended essay topics

One of the biggest keys to the Extended Essay is choosing which subject you want to write your work in and developing that crucial research question. Read on to find inspiration for topics across a wide range of subjects.

Extended Essay: The Love/Hate aspect of the IB

One of the biggest keys to the Extended Essay is choosing which subject you want to write your work in and developing that crucial research question. Annoyingly, coming up with that idea and research question can be the toughest part of the entire process. Writing 4,000 words about something you are interested in is a big ask and it often feels impossible to narrow down your thoughts. To make everything super clear, here are 100 Extended Essay Topics for you to draw inspiration from! Use these as a springboard to create your own research question !

Get Support from A Top Tutor Today

At Lanterna we have over 300 tutors who smashed their Extended Essay. They know exactly how to get an A in your EE and can give you tips and tricks on how you can do the same. What are you waiting for? Get your own tutor today !

How to Begin Your IB Extended Essay

To make everything super clear, here are 100 Extended Essay Topics for you to draw inspiration from! Use these as a springboard to  create your own research question !

Get Support from a Top Tutor Today

At Lanterna, we have over 300 tutors who smashed their Extended Essay. They know exactly how to get an A in your EE and can give you tips and tricks on how you can do the same. What are you waiting for? Get your own tutor today!

10 Steps to Writing an Extended Essay

Before we look at specific topics for your essay, let’s recap the 10-steps you’ll need to follow to complete your extended essay.

1. Define the Topic and Draft the Research Question

2. Create a Timeline

3. Identify and gather Sources

4. Set Deadlines

5. Plan the structure according to the total word count

6. Evaluate

7. independent Research

8. Write the extended essay draft

10. Present

By following the steps above, you should be able to produce a logical and coherent rationale to follow when writing the extended essay for your IB diploma programme.

By starting with a solid research question, you’ll be able to put an extended essay of global significance together, from the research and writing process all the way through to your final submission with a favourable extended essay grade.

Below, we’re sharing 10 topics across 10 subjects to inspire your next IB extended essay.

1. How the change of habitat affects an X organism?

2. How does climate affect the growth of X plant?

3. Can photosynthesis take place without sunlight?

4. What is the effect of age and gender on the photoreceptor cells in the human retina?

5. How is climate change impacting the appearance of coral reefs?

6. An evaluation of how  antioxidants  work in our bodies?

7. Does hand sanitizer, hand soap or antibacterial wipes have the greatest ability to inhibit the growth of E. Coli?

8. To what extent do live cultures in yogurts/milk/other dairy products reduce the concentration of lactose present over the course of a 2 hour incubation period at x°C?

9. What is the relationship between  population density  between X and population size of X?

10. What is the relationship between indoleacetic acid, a growth hormone, and the growth of X (a crop)?

11. How does human influence impact an aquatic ecosystem?

12. How can one organize a pollution check along a X canal in X?

13. What is the effect of the increased ecological footprint in the  Amazon ?

14. What are the forest and woodland restoration in Siberia, Russia and which one is most effective?

15. How does human interference cause ecological imbalances in an X city/country/continent?

16. What is the impact of urban development on the  bee population  in X city?

17. What are the differences in the conversation efforts in Yosemite National Park (California, USA) and the Lake District National Park (UK)?

18. To what extent have healthcare policies in X country influenced their human population curve?

19. How have changes in environmental systems influenced the value system of X country?

20. How has X landfill site affected the surrounding terrestrial ecosystem?

21. What is the profitability of  airline companies ?

22. How does unemployment affect the market?

23. Why did X recession occur?

24. How did the financial Policy affect the economy in X?

25. How effective are government policies in reducing overconsumption of alcohol (specifically hard liquor)?

26. To what extent are public buses and subways substitute goods in a country?

27. How did the tax reform in country x affect its growth and development? (many countries to choose from)

28. To what extent was weak government policy responsible for the Latin American financial crisis of 1997?

29. How effective is the  Big Mac Index  in measuring purchasing power parity?

30. To what extent would the UK suffer from leaving the European Customs Union if Brexit happens?

31. Is there an association between viewing violence on television and the display of violent acts?

32. What motivational climate should a coach employ in order to achieve optimal performance in athletes?

33. How does  X hormone affect human behavior ?

34. Compare theories explaining altruism in human behaviour

35. Discuss short-term and long-term consequences of exposure to violence

36. Why do relationships change or end?

37. Discuss how  social variables (poverty, parenting, educational environment) may the affect cognitive environment.

38. To what extent do mirror neurons play a role in empathy? (2014)

39. To what extent does Mindfulness help people cope with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

40. To what extent is drug therapy effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder?

41. Does the British Parliamentary reforms act of 1832 deserve its title as the great reform act?

42. To what extent are there similarities in Hitler and Mussolini’s Rise to Power?

43. To what extent did Mao’s tackle the problems which he faced?

44. Was Tsar Alexander II of Russia reforms a success or failure?

45. To what extent was the bombing of Dresden in 1945 justifiable?

46. To what extent can  Sweden be considered neutral during WWII ?

47. The impact of structural economic weakness on the collapse of the Soviet Union.

48. How were women treated differently in 1920s and 1950s Great Britain?

49. Why did Israel win the  Six Day War  of 1967?

50. What role did economics play in the unification of Germany from 1834 to 1871?

English Literature

51. What are the Compare and Contrast Jane Austen Books?

52. How does Joseph Conrad’s portray Racism in A Heart of Darkness?

53. How does Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman critique today’s capitalist society? The American Dream?

54. To what extent does Chris McCandless in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild escape familial influence?

55. What are the similarities and differences between J.K. Rowling’s characterization of Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?

56. How does Yaa Gyasi use structure in her novel Homegoing to portray the evolution of time?

57. What is the impact of the social context on Holden Caufield and Huckleberry Finn?

58. How does Sylvia Path’s use of Inanimate objects in Bell Jar?

59. How is the empowerment of Feminine portrayed in the Lord of the Rings?

60. Compare the political rhetoric as used in the inaugural addresses of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

61. The design, construction and calibration of an apparatus for measuring lipid concentration in milk.

62. What is the effect of a change in the optimal lift on the horizontal gliding distance of an aircraft?

63. How does the sugar concentration affect the refractive index of water?

64. How does temperature affect the viscosity of X juice/soda?

65. Is the relationship between temperature and conductivity and insulators and conductors?

66. What is the Oberth Effect?

67. What is the temperature dependence of work performed on an AA battery?

68. How can the rotational frequency of a fan driven by a flame measure distance?

69. Do wine bottles of different shapes behave as Helmholtz resonators?

70. How does the diameter of a wheel affect stability in different weather conditions?

71. What factors influence the location of industries in country/city X?

72. An investigation into the significance of preserving the quality of water in a continent/country/city?

73. An investigation into the degree to which City X can be considered a Sustainable City/Community.

74. To what extent is Biodiversity being managed successfully in city X?

75. To what extent does the education and employment of women affect Country x’s fertility rate?

76. To what extent do gender, educational attainment, and working parameters influence obesity risk?

77. To what extent has urban development affected human thermal comfort levels in Country/city x (a country/city that has developed in a rapid rate over the past decades)?

78. To what extent is the Company x corporate waste management program effective, demonstrating environmental sustainability?

79. To what extent is biodiversity being managed successfully at National Park X?

80. What types of urban design encourage high rates of vandalism in X neighbourhoods?

81. The kinetics of Enzymatic Reactions.

82. How do Iron Intake Diets differ in X country?

83. What are the different factors that affect the iodine values in cooking oils?

84. What is the effect of standing time and temperate on the acid content in X juice or soda?

85. Can caffeine in tea or coffee be reduced?

86. What is the effect of temperature on the souring of milk?

87. What are the sources of error in calorimetry?

88. Does brushing your teeth affect the pH in your mouth after eating?

89. How does changing the concentration of the reagents affect the formation and spacing between Liesehang rings in the reaction between X chloride and X when conducted in a test tube?

90. What effect does the coating of aspirin tablets have on the hydrolysis of aspirin?

Social and Cultural Anthropology

91. How clothing relates to the cultural anthropology of X culture.

92. The extent to which social media networks affect different societies.

93. The relationship between ritual, myths and faith in an X society.

94. The history of rituals in X culture.

95. How different marriage rituals inform the cultural anthropology of X culture.

96. Climate change and its impact on the evolution of different creatures on the planet.

97. Understanding the social and cultural anthropology of the supernatural in X culture.

98. An analysis of body modification in relation to social and cultural anthropology.

100. Chaste systems and social ranks in societies.

There are so many class subjects that can form the basis of your extended essay, including these popular six subjects:

– Information technology

– Computer science

– Health science

– World studies

– Visual arts

– Business management

Extended essays are a great way to improve your writing skills in academic writing. Essays of a high standard that demonstrate critical thinking and in depth analysis can be submitted to academic journals. These have the potential to reach the global society.

Start Writing Your Extended Essay Topic

We hope this gave you some great inspiration for the variation of topics available for your Extended Essay . The research question you select is what will carry you through the entire process, so be sure to choose wisely!

Remember, if you are looking for more help with your Extended Essay, make sure to check out our guide which will tell you exactly how to plan, structure, research and write your Extended Essay!

Grab Free Extended Essay Resources!

No matter the subject groups in your diploma program, we’re here to help all of our IB students. Whether you’re writing about social and cultural anthropology, business management, design technology, or scientific methods for your IB diploma, Lanterna has you covered.

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