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Space Weather

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- Space Weather = Conditions in space caused by the Sun - Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) = A large expulsion of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun's corona- Solar Flares = An energetic burst of light and particles triggered by the release of magnetic energy on the Sun- Solar Wind = A stream of energized, charged particles flowing from the Sun

Vocabulary

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Vocabulary

- Coronal Holes = A large region in the corona which is less dense and is cooler than its surroundings- Sunspots = Areas on the sun in which the temperature is cooler than its surroundings (magnetic field extremely strong)- Solar Cycle = How many years there are between a solar maximum, a solar minimum and the next solar maximum

Sunspot

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  • Occasional energy bursts from the Sun affect the magnetic systems of Earth and other celestial bodies
    • Change radiation environment in space
    • Events that can release energy: CMEs and solar flare
  • Coronal mass ejection (CME)
    • Energy released can reach Earth in 15 hours
    • Huge explosions (eject plasma and carry a strong magnetic field)
    • Created when the Sun's magnetic field gets twisted and stressed
  • Solar flares
    • Energy released can reach Earth in 8 minutes
      • Emit x-rays
    • Common during periods of high activity
    • Occur in regions where there are strong magnetic fields

Information

  • Solar cycle
    • Magnetic field evolves over time
      • Magnetic field is tangled and disorganized
      • At its maximum, the sun's magnetic field "flips" causing the poles to switch
    • The number and location of sunspots indicates solar activity
      • Maximum = When the number of sunspots and solar activity is at its highest
      • Minimum = When the number of sunspots and solar activity is at its lowest

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  • The Sun has a constant outflow of solar wind (influences the nature of space)
    • As the solar wind approaches Earth, most of it gets deflected by Earth’s magnetic force field
  • However, sometimes bursts of energy from the Sun manage to break through, creating space weather storms
    • These storms send particles along Earth's magnetic lines
    • When the particles collide with the atoms in Earth's upper atmosphere, it creates light displays (known as auroras)

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  • Space weather interferes with satellite electronics, radio communications, GPS signals, spacecraft orbits, and power grids
    • Radio blackouts
      • X-rays emitted by solar flares disrupt and scatter radio waves
    • Solar radiation storms
      • Caused by both solar flares and CMEs (reach Earth in 10 minutes)
      • Large burst of energy can increase radiation near Earth
    • Geomagnetic storms
      • Large CMEs cause a major energy transfer to Earth's magnetic field (from strong solar wind)
      • Cause thermosphere to heat up, creates auroras, harms power grids
  • Understanding space weather is crucial for predicting and accommodating its effects on technology and space exploration

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Activity

For this activity you are going to use graph paper to graph the number of sunspots versus the year (year on the x-axis and the number of sunspots on the y-axis). You will then use this graph to draw conclusions about the observed phenomena and to answer the questions on the following slides.Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the data page.

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2006200720082009201020112012201320142015

1996199719981999200020012002200320042005

122988136174170164996546

2513452581859411370

Year

Year

# Sunspots

# Sunspots

1986198719881989199019911992199319941995

1534123211192203133764525

Year

# Sunspots

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. Connect the points you've plotted with a smooth curve. You'll notice that there are very clear peaks (maximums) and valleys (minimums). Which years are the maximums and which years are the minimums?Years that are maximums:Years that are minimums:Label these years on your graph with a capital M and lower case m, respectively.2. Is there a regular pattern for sunspot numbers? (hint! think about the solar cycle)

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3. Find the next solar cycle starting in 1989.Solar maximum = 1989 Next solar minimum = Next solar maximum =Solar cycle =4. Find the next solar cycle starting in 2000.Solar maximum = 2000Next solar minimum = Next solar maximum =Solar cycle =

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5. If you had to guess the average solar cycle length, what would it be from 1986-2015? 6. If you had to make a prediction for the years 2019 and 2025, would the years be maximums or minimums?7. How many sunspots were there during the year you were born? 8. Predict whether it will be closer to a maximum or a minimum when you graduate from high school and for when you turn 30 years old.

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What is the correlation between the number of sunspots on the Sun and the amount of Solar activity?2. How might space weather impact us?3. Why would it be important for people to know where we are in the solar cycle?

Moon

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- Waning = The illuminated side of the moon is getting smaller- Waxing = The illuminated side of the moon is getting bigger- Crescent = The shape of the illuminated part of the moon when it is less than half full- Gibbous = The shape of the illuminated part of the moon when it is more than half full

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  • Moon phases
    • Result of the changing positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun
    • Repeating pattern (about a 29 day cycle)
      • 8 phases: new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent

Information

  • Eclipses
    • Occur when the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun are all in a straight line (due to the Earth and the Moon's constant orbit, does not occur every cycle)
    • Types
      • Solar eclipse
        • Occurs at new moon
      • Lunar eclipse
        • Occurs at full moon

Information

  • Orbit
    • Elliptical
    • Completes an orbit around the Earth every 27 days
    • "Tidal locking" occurs as the Moon takes the same amount of time to rotate as it does to orbit the Earth
      • Regardless of the Earth or the Moon's position, the same side of the Moon is always observable from Earth

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Activity

For this activity you are going to download, print, and construct the "Moon Calendar" linked below. You will then use this tool to predict moon phases and draw conclusions about the observed phenomena to answer the questions on the following slides.Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the construction video.

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Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. How does moonrise/moonset time change throughout the Moon's cycle? (hint! focus on the time of one phase - for example new moon; and see how times change for the following phases)2. What is the expected Moon phase on your birthday?3. What time does the Moon rise on October 3rd?4. What time does the Moon set on May 15th?5. What time should you go out if you want to see a full moon?

Assessment

On a scratch piece of paper, fill in the blanks using the word bank and answer the following questions.1. Word bank: midnight, noon, sunrise, sunsetThe new Moon always rises near _____.The first quarter Moon always rises near _____.The full Moon always rises near _____.The last quarter Moon always rises near _____.2. What causes the phases of the Moon, and why do we observe them from Earth? Explain.3. Why do we only see one side of the Moon? Explain.

Telescope

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Vocabulary

- Refracting Telescope = Uses a lens to gather and focus light (bends light as it passes through)- Reflecting Telescope = Uses mirrors to gather and focus light (light bounces off as it strikes the mirror)

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Vocabulary

- Objective Lens = Lens at the front of the telescope thats main function is to gather and focus light- Eyepiece = Lens closest to the eye, thats function is to magnify the image produced by the objective lens- Focal Length = Distance from the objective lens (or primary mirror) to the point where the light comes to a focus- Magnification = The degree to which a telescope enlarges the apparent size of an object

Information

  • Functions
    • To collect light
      • The larger the lens, the more light that can be gathered
    • To focus light
    • To magnify
      • Long focal length = more magnified image
  • The more light there is, the easier it is to study the image
  • How it works
    • Objective lens gathers and bends/reflects light
    • Light is focused
    • Eyepiece magnifies and focuses image/small mirror reflects image into eyepiece

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  • Refracting telescope
    • Typically used to observe deep space objects (galaxies and nebulae)
    • Pros
      • Image positioned correctly
      • Minimal image distortion
      • Low maintenance
    • Cons
      • Distortion of color
      • Expensive to produce large lens
        • Have to use smaller lenses which means less light is collected

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  • Reflecting telescope
    • Typically used to observe brighter space objects (planets and moons)
    • Pros
      • No color distortion
      • Large opening
        • Collects a lot of light
    • Cons
      • Sensitive to the elements
      • High maintenance
      • Image may be distorted
        • Upside down when looking through the eyepiece

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  • Famous telescopes
    • Hubble telescope
      • Orbits Earth
      • Equipped to view objects in the ultra violet spectrum
      • Provided evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating
    • James Webb telescope
      • Extends the Hubble telescope findings
      • Equipped to view objects in the infrared spectrum
      • Can view objects that are far away
        • Observed galaxies up to 13.4 billion years old

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For this activity you are going to construct a refracting telescope, using water as the lenses. You will then use this tool to observe how images appear with different lenses and to answer the questions on the following slides.Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the experiment instructions and questions.

Activity

Instructions:1. Take a piece of paper and fold it into thirds lengthwise2. Unfold the paper and use a writing utensil to draw an image in the middle panel of the piece of paper (thicker lines/darker colors work best)3. Refold it and place it so that it stands, with the image facing forward4. Place an empty glass about 15 cm in front of your image.5. Looking through the glass at eye level, make observations about the image

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Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What do you see? How does the image appear?2. If you were to move the cup closer to/farther away from the image, how would the image's appearance change, if at all?3. Make a prediction as to how you think the image will appear when water is poured into the cup.

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Instructions:6. Fill the glass with water7. Looking through the glass at eye level, make observations about the image

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Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:4. What do you see? How does the image appear?5. How did the image's appearance differ between observing it through an empty glass and through a full glass, if at all?6. Make a predictiona as to how you think the image will appear if you were to use more than one cup of water?7. How does this experiment relate to refracting telescopes?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of telescopes?2. How do telescopes contribute to our understanding of space?3. How does light imapct the observations of a telescope?

Constellations

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- Constellations = A group of stars that appear to form a pattern- Celestial Sphere = An imaginary sphere surrounding Earth in which space is projected

  • History
    • Ancient civilizations noticed how the visibility of stars changed with time
      • Used constellations to navigate and tell time
        • Create calendars, track seasons, "North Star" (stationary point)
    • Constellations were named after figures and objects from cultural stories
      • Helps people remember the organization and pattern of the stars
      • Serves as an educaitonal tool to preserve lessons

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  • Visibility and movement
    • Given Earth's orbit, the constellations appear to shift towards the west
    • Therefore, we view different constelltions at differnt points of the year, as we are looking at different parts of the sky
    • Along with that, the star's location and visibility is dependent on one's location on Earth (measured in latitude)
      • Near the equator, both northern and southern hemisphere constellations are visible
      • Higher/lower latitudes have certain constellations that are visible year round, and have others that are visible seasonally

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  • Location
    • Constellation mapping infers a 2D model of our solar system
      • Stars are not all in line (could differ by extreme distances, despite appearing next to each other)
    • Named by coordinates on celestial sphere
      • Relative position is recorded
      • Located in a fixed location (only appear to be moving because Earth is moving)

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For this activity you are going to download, print, and construct a planishphere, a tool that scientists use to depict a map of the visible stars at any particular time. You will then use this device to predict when and where different constellations are visible.Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the questions.

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. List three constellations that will be visible to you tonight.2. During what season is orion not visible?3. During what months is your zodiac sign visible? 4. How long does it take the constellations to revolve around the celestial poles?5. How does the rotation of the stars affect their rise times?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. How might constellations play a role in modern scientific research?2. How is the visibility of constellations impacted by the observer's location? Explain.3. How did cultural beliefs impact the naming of constellations? Explain (feel free to choose a specific constellation to reference).

Cosmology

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Vocabulary

- Cosmology = The study of the origin and the evolution of the universe- The Big Bang = The origin of the universe (began very hot, and dense, but began to expland and cool off with time, allowing for the formation of stars, galaxies, etc.)- Theory = Explains why a phenomena occurs (used to make predictions)- Law = Summarizes observations about a phenomena (used to make predictions)- Model = Conceptual representation of a system of ideas or processes

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  • The big questions
    • What is dark matter/dark energy?
      • Evidence suggests the presence of dark matter/dark energy, but cannot directly detect its existence
    • What existed before the Big Bang?
      • Recombination and reionization are responsible for what we observe today, but what existed prior to the expansion of our hot, dense origin
    • What will be the fate of the universe?
      • We know that the universe is cooling down, so will there ever be a point where conditions do not allow life to exist
    • Is the unvierse finite or infinite?
      • We know that the universe is expanding, but do not know whether or not this expansion has a limit

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  • Purpose
    • Cosmologists serve to answer the big space questions
      • There is a balance between science and spiritualism
      • Science provides the foundation, but spiritualism can explain the unknown
    • They make observations about space to determine past behaviors as well as to make predictions about the future of our universe
      • Create laws, theories, and models with the support of evidence to explain observed and unobserved phenomena
    • Ideas and theories are constantly evolving with the introduction of new evidence, observations, and ideas

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For this activity you are going to need to copy the link down below into your browser. From there, you will download and print the cosmic survey. You will have to think like a cosmolgoist and organize information about our universe. You may also need to do some research on your own to help you better classify/organize your information.Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the questions.https://docs.google.com/document/d/1n6QFg0kWdhyfry0q7PHY334vWdxrC66nCEzEFws8lkI/edit?usp=share_link

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. Explain your reasoning for your order of objects based on size.2. Explain your reasoning for your order of objects based on distance.3. Explain your reasoning for your order of objects based on age.4. What kind of information can we gather about the universe?5. What cosmological principle would support your observations and understanding?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. Think about your own knowledge of the unvierse. How has it changed over time?2. How might cosmologists go about constructing and creating different models, theories, and laws?3. Once a model, theory, or law has been established, can they ever be disproved? Explain.

Dwarf Planets

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- Clearing Orbit = The celestial object is gravitationally dominant, meaning that there are no other bodies of comparable size under its gravitational influence- International Astromical Union (IAU) = Organization of scientists with an expertise in astronomy, who are responsible for classifying and naming celestial objects- Kuiper Belt = A region of the solar system extending beyond the orbit of Neptune where icy bodies revolve

Information

  • Classification characteristics
    • Orbits the Sun
    • Fairly spherical
      • Enough mass, so gravity holds its shape
    • Does not clear its orbit
      • This is the main difference between planets and dwarf planets (attributed to size)
  • Other characteristics
    • Typically smaller
    • Located in the outer regions of the solar system
    • Can have ring systems
    • Can have satellites (moons)

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  • Major dwarf planets
    • Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, Eris
      • Named after mythological characters
    • Most located in the Kuiper Belt (beyond Neptune's orbit)
      • Called plutoids
    • Ceres is described as an embryonic planet
      • An incompletely formed planet
    • Varying orbits
      • Elliptical orbits = Pluto and Eris
      • Circular orbit = Ceres

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  • Composition
    • Dependent on distance from the Sun
      • Closer dwarf planets are typically rocky and icy, with traces of liquid water
        • Ceres
      • Further dwarf planets are typically rocky and icy, but do not have any liquid water
        • Pluto, Eris, Haumea, Makemake

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  • New Horizons Mission
    • The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in 2006
    • Set to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt
      • First spacecraft to successfully explore Pluto and its moons
      • Explored Arrokoth, a distant Kuiper Belt object

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Activity

NASA has just discovered 3 objects in space. Given your expertise on dwarf planets, they have recruited you and the rest of the International Astronomical Union to classify the following objects as planets, dwarf planets, or neither. For this activity you are going to read through each of the objects' profiles and classify them based on their characterisitcs. Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the profiles.

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Profiles:

- Orbits Jupiter- Round- Fairly large- Lots of craters - Mostly ice and rock- Has not cleared orbit of debris- No rings

- Orbits the Sun- Round - Small- Some craters - Mostly ice and rock- Has not cleared orbit of debris- Rings

- Orbits the Sun- Round - Large- No craters - Mostly gas- Has cleared orbit of debris- No rings

Object A

Object B

Object C

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What is the classification of Object A? Explain why.2. What is the classification of Object B? Explain why.3. What is the classification of Object C? Explain why. 4. Compare the objects. How are they similar?5. Contrast the objects. How are they different?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What characteristics must an object exhibit to be classified as a dwarf planet?2. Can a moon be classified as a dwarf planet? Why or why not?3. How do the orbital characterisitcs of dwarf planets differ from planets?

Early Models

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Vocabulary

- Heliocentism = Model depicting the Sun as the center of the solar system- Geocentric = Model depicting the Earth at the center of the solar system- Concentric = Multiple variations of the same shape nested, sharing a common center- Epicycle = Small ring that moves around the edge of a larger ring- Deferent = Ring that defines an object's orbit- Retrograde Motion = The apparent reversal of an object's direction in the sky

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  • Ptolemy
    • Used a geocentric model to represent the structure and characteristics of the universe
    • Believed that all planets and Earth's moon were orbiting in concentric, circular rings around the Earth
      • Deferents served to explain planets' orbits and the Moon's orbit around Earth
      • Epicycles served to explain the planet or moon's distance from the Earth throughout the orbit

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  • Copernicus
    • Used a heliocentric model to represent the structure and characteristics of the universe
    • Believed that all planets, including the Earth were orbiting in concentric, circular rings around the Sun
      • Deferents served to explain planets' orbits, including Earth, around the Sun
      • Epicycles served to explain the speed of planets, including Earth, as they orbitted the Sun

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  • Evidence supporting geocentric model
    • Belief that mankind occupied a special place in space
    • Given a lack of technology, people observed things changing around them (did not experience Earth's motion or roation, leading to the belief that Earth was stationary)
    • Could use deferents and epicycles to make predictions about planetary motion
  • Evidence supporting heliocentric model
    • Observed moons orbiting Jupiter (not everything orbits Earth)
    • Mercury has moon phases, suggesting that it orbits the Sun, much like the Moon rotates Earth
    • Retrograde motion suggests that speed changes depending on an object's location and proximity to the Sun

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Activity

For this activity you are going to need to copy the link down below into your browser. After that, you will need to open and print the file below. You will use the bank of terms and concepts and sort them using the venn diagram. You will then use this information to compare and contrast geocrentism and heliocentrism as well as to answer the questions on the following page. Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the questions.https://docs.google.com/document/d/1E0EiUziSsgCd0StqIIuPWmg4v-CcEwuBqX1vP8yFasA/edit?usp=share_link

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What do the geocentric model and the heliocentric model have in common? What does this tell you about our understanding of the universe?2. What differences are there between the geocentric model and the heliocentric model? What does this tell you about our understanding of the universe?3. What evidence caused people to change their opinion about the center of the universe (geocentric model to heliocentric model)?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. Compare and contrast the role of epicycles and deferents in the Ptolemaic model and the Copernican model.2. What key piece of evidence do you think led people to use the heliocentric model in place of the geocentric model?3. How does heliocentrism influence our understanding of the universe?

Kepler's Laws

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Vocabulary

- Heliocentrism = The belief that the Sun is at the center of the universe and that planets orbit it- Eccentricity = The measure of how non-circular an object's orbit is- Semi-Major Axis = The distance between the center and the furthest part of the circle/ellipse- Law of Universal Gravitation = All objects attract each other, and the magnitude of attraction is dependent on mass

Information

  • Johannes Kepler
    • Fixated on the study of the heavenly bodies
      • Inspired by the idea that the Sun might be the center of the universe
    • "Mysterium Cosmographicum"
      • Defense of heliocentric theory
      • Geometrical representation of the universe
        • Used to show the supposed space between each of the celestial spheres
    • Responsible for creating the laws of planetary motion
      • Used mathematics to prove his ideas

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  • Kepler's 1st Law
    • Planets orbit the Sun in an elliptical shape
      • Sun is at one focus and nothing is at the other
    • The eccentricity determines the shape of the orbit
      • An eccentricity closer to 0 means that the orbit is circular in shape
      • An eccentricity closer to 1 means that the orbit is elliptical in shape
    • Significance
      • Supported heliocentrism

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  • Kepler's 2nd Law
    • A planet takes the same amount of time to cover the equal areas of space
    • Velocity
      • Planets move faster when they are close to the Sun
      • Planets move slower when they are further away
    • Significance
      • Explains gravitational force between planets and the Sun (closer to the Sun, the stronger the gravitational force)

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  • Kepler's 3rd Law
    • The semi-major axis cubed is equal to the square of a planet's orbital period
    • Emphasizes the relationship between the amount of time it takes a planet to complete an orbit and it's distance from the Sun
    • Significance
      • Set the foundation for Newton's law of universal gravitation

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Activity

For this activity you are going to use the data table on the following page to calculate the eccentricites of planets. Eccentricity can be calculated by dividing an object's distance from the center by it's semi-major axis. You will then use this information to describe your findings and will relate it back to one of Kepler's laws. Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the data.

Activity

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. Which of the objects orbits was most eccentric?2. Which of the objects orbits was least eccentric?3. Which of the objects orbits were most similar? Why might that be?4. Which of Kepler's Laws do your findings support. Why?5. What does this activity tell us about our solar system?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. How do Kepler's laws support heliocentrism?2. How might Kepler's laws be applied to other objects in our solar system?3. If two planets have the same eccentricity but different semi-major axes, how do their orbital periods compare? Explain.

Space Technology

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Vocabulary

- Thrust = A force in one direction- Interplanetary Travel = Moving between planets (area that occupies the space between them)- Escape Velocity = Speed an object needs to break free of another object's gravity (for Earth, needs to be 11.2 km/s)

Information

  • The International Space Station
    • International cooperative program between various countries
    • Research facility in space
      • Crew of 7 people live and work there
    • Significance
      • Allows scientists to conduct their research and experiments while in space
      • In the presence of low gravity, scientists can study the effects of low gravity on the human body and other living organisms, can test diseases and new drugs, can detect and observe unscheduled events

Information

  • Rockets
    • Use a controlled explosion to generate thrust
      • As gas is pushed out, the rocket is pushed upward
    • As it launches, it sheds mass (allows upward force to have a greater effect)
    • Fuel is stored in tanks, which allows for controlled burning throughout the rocket's journey
    • When first launched, it orbits low around the Earth before interplanetary travel
      • It needs an escape velocity great enough to break free of Earth's gravity in order to leave Earth's orbit (11.2 km/s)

Information

  • Artificial Satellites
    • Need to travel fast enough to remain in orbit
      • Can be in different orbits (low-Earth orbit or geostationary orbit)
    • Have to map out satellites path to avoid collision and damages
      • Despite there being so many satellites in space, only some are usable (those retired are now just space junk)
    • Purpose
      • Navigation (applications that assist in finding locations such as GPS)
      • Communication (ex. radio, television, etc.)
      • Imagery (provide images of Earth's surface)

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Activity

For this activity you are going to click the image below to proceed to a website. You will then have to find the optimal conditions for a rocket launch given specific criteria that you have to meet. You will then use your understanding of the relationship between variables as well as any of your other conclusions to answer the questions on the following page. Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the questions.

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What strategy did you use to get the rocket to launch, while meeting all the criteria?2. What was the relationship between mass, thrust, thrust time, drag, and mass change?3. Could there be more than one combination of these variables that allows for your rocket to launch? Explain.4. What factors might a scientist have to consider when building a rocket?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. Explain how all three types of space technology discussed work in conjunction.2. Why is it beneficial for scientists to study space, outside of Earth?3. Discuss the importance of space exploration for scientific discovery.

Exoplanets

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Vocabulary

- Exoplanet = Planets that orbit stars (not the Sun) outside of our solar system- Habital Zone ("Goldilocks Zone") = Area where conditions are ideal (existence of liquid water, livable surface termperatures, etc.)Hot Jupiter = Gas giants that orbit very close to their stars, meaning they have a very high termperature

Information

  • Detecting exoplanets
    • Transit method
      • Use telescope to observe the dimming of a star (planet passing in front of it)
    • Gravitational lensing
      • Observe how light is bent due to the gravitational force of an object
        • Light drop indicates the presence of a planet
    • Direct imaging
      • Viewing through a telescope
        • Isolate planet from obstructing light

Information

  • Types
    • Gas giants
      • Very large gas planets
        • "Hot Jupiters"
    • Neptunian
      • Rocky core, and hydrogen/helium atmosphere
    • Super-Earth
      • Larger than Earth sized terrestrial planets
    • Terrestrial
      • Earth sized planets composed of rock, water, or carbon

Information

  • Signficance
    • Discover life beyond Earth
      • Many exoplanets seem to exhibit the characteristics and traits needed to support life
      • Determine if planet is in the habitable zone
    • Provides insight into how the universe works
      • Limited by our understanding our own solar system
      • Useful information about other structures, orbits, etc.
      • Indicates how planets may form or evolve

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Activity

For this activity you are going to use graph paper to graph the normalized flux versus the timestamp (timestamp on the x-axis and the normalized flux on the y-axis). You will then use this graph to create a light curve using the data collected by a 0.8 meter reflecting telescope pointed toward the star. Using your graph, you will answer a series of questions and will ultimatelyt conclude the presence of an exoplanet orbiting the star GSC00522-01199. Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the data page.

Timestamp

Activity

5:025:135:225:295:355:425:526:026:086:15

6:216:316:386:446:536:577:017:077:137:26

1.00091.00021.00020.99740.99290.98920.98730.98490.98370.9848

0.98450.98390.98750.98600.98860.99400.99451.00030.99880.9992

Normalized Flux

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Normalized Flux

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What should an exoplanet plot look like as it passes in front of its star? 2. If normalized flux dipped from 1 to 0.5, what does that suggest about the light from the star?3. Does your graph of the data support the presence of an exoplanet? Explain.4. If your graph supports the presence of an exoplanet, use points to determine how long it takes the exoplanet to transit its star?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. How can exoplanets be used to further our understanding of the universe?2. Explain one of the methods used to detect exoplanets, and how to identify it.3. What type of exoplanet could support life? What factors contribute to the habitability of an exoplanet?

Black Holes

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Vocabulary

- Black Hole = An object that is very small and dense, with immense gravitation (so great, light cannot escape from it)- Escape Velocity = Speed an object needs to break free of another object's gravity (for black holes, needs to be greater than the speed of light)- Supernova = An event that could occur when a very large star is at the end of its life cycle, typically a very large explosion of energized light

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  • Formation
    • Very large stars, either become supernova or neutron stars at the end of their lifecycle
    • Supernova give birth to black holes, the initial size of which is dependent on the size of the star
    • From there, they increase in size as they pull surrouding objects into it
      • This force is so strong that even light cannot escape (escape velocity)
  • Detection
    • Black hole pulls mass from companion stars (which can be observed)
    • Use telescope to observe the spectra of gas, indicating velocity
      • Rotating very fast around a small object

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  • Types
    • Supermassive
      • Product of stars 100,000x more massive than the Sun
      • Appear to have formed near the beginning of our universe
      • Gain mass through collissions and from smaller surrounding objects
      • Located at the center of most galaxies

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  • Types
    • Stellar
      • Product of stars 20x more massive than the Sun
      • Have been detected with companion stars (use companion as a fuel source)
      • Gain mass through collissions with other celestial objects

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  • Types
    • Primordial
      • Have not been detected or discovered
      • Black holes that were formed at the beginning of the universe
      • One theory is that they have since scattered and broken apart, so we would not have any remnants of them remaining
    • Intermediate
      • Have not been detected or discovered
      • Would fall between stellar mass and supermassive black holes in terms of size
      • One theory is that they are the product of the collision between stellar massed black holes

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  • Significance
    • Understand characteristics of the ealy universe and enhance our understanding of how the universe works today
    • Helps us better understand the star lifecycle
    • Questions what role they serve in galaxies
    • Enhances our understanding of gravity and energy
      • Absence of light
        • Potential for dark matter

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Activity

For this activity you are going to be presented with a set of case files informing you of astronomers' findings. Your job is to evaluate each of the astronomers' set of claims and use your knowledge of black holes to determine whether or not you believe the system contains a black hole. Create a table in your notebook with a pro/con list for each case. From there, make an argument as to whether or not the system contains a black hole. You will then use your table to answer the questions on the following page. Click the arrow in the top left corner to proceed to the cases.

Activity

- Case 1 = Using the Harlan J. Smith telescope at McDonald Observatory, we observed the bulge of a spiral galaxy, NGC 314159. Although the galaxy's bulge was not very bright, we measured a high velocity for stars of about 350 kilometers per second inside the bulge. Perhaps thick masses of dust are blocking the visible light from reaching the telescope. The bulge appears extremely compact and organized. We would like to do follow up observations, which may support our hypothesis that a 104 to 105 solar mass black hole lies in the bulge of this galaxy.

Activity

- Case 2 = In our survey of spiral galaxies, we observed a peculiar galaxy with an extremely bright bulge. Further spectroscopic observations showed that the bulge material is orbiting a central object at about 250 km/s. To rule out intervening foreground objects, like a nearby star, we checked the astronomical database Set of Identifications, Measurements, and Bibliography for Astronomical Data (SIMBAD) for other objects at the galaxy's coordinates. No other objects appear in the foreground. The bulge appears well organized. We think the central object is a black hole with a mass of 109 solar masses.

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- Case 3 = We have detected a black hole with a mass of 109 solar masses. The bulge of its host galaxy is extremely bright, which could only come from a compact and powerful source like a black hole. Although the velocity of luminous material is low (50 km/s), we think that the black hole is so large that our instrument can not record the innermost and fastest moving matter. The matter that our instrument can record is located far away from the black hole, so is moving more slowly than other claims reported in the Black Hole Database. We are considering follow up observations that may further support our claim.

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- Case 4 = Recent observations with our new instrument on the McDonald Observatory 2.7-meter Harlan J. Smith telescope show strong support for a massive 5 x 105 solar mass black hole in the bulge of NGC 20051205, a spiral galaxy. Our instrument could measure the velocity of bulge material orbiting at 100 km/s. We observed the galaxy along its spiral disc edge, so we could not see the bulge well. We strongly suspect that follow up infrared observations will show strong far infrared emission in the bulge. X-ray observations may show extremely energetic activity from the bulge.

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What evidence did you use to conclude whether or not each of the cases showed proof of a black hole?2. Which cases did you classify as containing black holes? Explain.3. Which cases did you classify as not containing black holes? Explain.4. Compare and contrast the cases.5. What is the significance of each of the cases, and how do they enhance our understanding of the universe?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. What distinguishes black holes from other cosmological objects?2. Compare and contrast stellar black holes to supermassive black holes?3. Why do so many galaxies have black holes at their centers? Explain.

Galaxies

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Vocabulary

- Galaxy = A gravitationally bound system composed of stars, dust, dark matter, gas, etc. - Dark Matter = Matter that cannot reflect or emit any light (typically found in the halo)- Halo = Area surrounding the central part of the galaxy (the edge of the galaxy)- Spiral Arms = Structures protruding from the central bulge where star formation takes place

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  • Rotation
    • Typically takes about a billion years to complete a rotation
    • Rotation speed is constant throughout galaxy
      • Visible mass does not conclude this alone, suggests the existence of dark matter
  • Motion
    • Appear to be moving away from each other
    • Collisions between galaxies as they move throughout space
      • Combine, forming a new galaxy

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  • Types
    • Spiral
      • Known for their disk, bulge, and halo
      • New stars are formed and located in the "arms"
      • Old stars can typically be found near the bulge or in the halo surrounding the galaxy
      • Black hole at its center
    • Elliptical
      • Can be oval or circular in shape
      • No bulge
      • Black hole at its center
      • Minimal to no star formation due to a lack of materials needed to form

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  • Types
    • Irregular
      • Cannot be classified as such if it has a "typical" shape
      • Can be further classified as either Irr1 (lots of hydrogen and new stars) or Irr2 (hard to observe stars due to an abundance of dust)
    • Barred
      • Similar in structure to spiral galaxies, but have a section of matter dividing its ends
      • Known for their disk, bulge, and halo
      • Create an "S" shape

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  • The Milky Way
    • A spiral galaxy
      • Has a flat shape when viewed from the side with a bulge in the center
      • Created by the galaxy's rotation
    • Our solar system orbits the center of the Milky Way, much like the planets in our solar system rotate the Sun
      • Many other planets and stars have been discovered outside of our solar system, which also orbit the Milky Way's center
    • Supermassive black hole at its center

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For this activity you are going to classify galaxies into the following categories: spiral, elliptical, irregular, and barred. For each of your classifications, you are to write a rationale as to why you classified the image as such. You will then use your classifications to answer some follow-up questions. Click the arrow in the top left corner to view the galaxy images.

Activity

Activity

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. Which type or types of galaxies were most common? What kind of galaxies would you predict are the most common in our universe?2. Which type or types of galaxies were least common? What kind of galaxies would you predict are the least common in our universe?3. Which types of galaxies are the most similar?4. Which types of galaxies are the most different?5. Which type of galaxies were the easiest to classify? Why?

Assessment

Answer the following questions on a scratch piece of paper:1. Why do galaxies have a constant velocity? What does this tell us about our universe?2. What does the classification of a galaxy tell you about its composition and shape?3. What type of galaxy would have the most star formation? How do you know this?