Investigation 4: Supernova Remnants - Activity 1

Motivating Observations / Questions About Explosions

Overview: Students observe terrestrial explosions, and generate questions about how they are similar to and different from supernova explosions.

Physical resources: None

Electronic resources: cannon video, X-ray image of Cas A, Cas A radio movie, images of various SNRs

  • Students record observations about each, and share important similarities, differences and questions raised.
  • All students read supernova "expert group" wiki to gain some familiarity with SNR.
  • Show grid of 3-color X-ray images of many different supernova remnants, snrs (PDF).
  • Students record similarities/differences/questions on board. Possible questions:
    • Why would something astronomical blow up (Could motivate review of end of stellar lifetime)?
    • How could you tell what kind of explosion made this?
    • What used to be there before the explosion?
    • What will it look like in the future?
    • How fast does the expansion take place?
  • Discussion of relative sizes in the galaxy, including a mathematical method of how to compare the sizes of objects

Teacher tips/tricks:

  • Try to steer questions / observations toward those things students can actually observe, given their CAI experience: flux, angular size, color, spectrum, etc.

Assessment ideas: None


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