Measuring Distances in the Universe
These activities are produced by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the European Space Agency. They are a series of excercises in which students use real data to measure astronomical distances, one of the most basic problems in modern astrophysics. The students apply different methods to determine the distance of astronomical objects such as the supernova SN 1987A, the spiral galaxy Messier 100, the Cat's Eye Planetary Nebula globular cluster Messier 12.
The excercises are specifically targetted to illustrate a range of approaches:
1 - Introduction - observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope
2 - Toolkit - magnitudes, distance and light
3 - Measuring the distance to supernova 1987A using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope
4 - The Distance to M100 as Determined by Cepheid variable stars
5 - Measuring the distance to the Cat’s Eye Nebula using observations from the Hubble Space telescope
6 - Measuring a globular star cluster’s distance and age using the ESO Very Large Telescope
7 - The distance to M100 as determined by photometry of Cepheid variable stars performed with the EU-HOU SalsaJ Software
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Good extension materials
Posted by Robin Mobbs on 29th January 2013
A high level set of tasks to show different ways that distances are measured when studying the Universe using up to date…
A high level set of tasks to show different ways that distances are measured when studying the Universe using up to date methods and data.
The instructions are written in detail and are therefore quite long. Weaker students would need some support in understanding them fully.
The tasks require a good facility with mathematical techniques but the processes are explained. The tasks go into greater detail than is usually encountered at Keystage 5 and completing all of them would take a considerable time.
The probable use of these in a school would be to choose one or two that fit the required teaching aims of a syllabus for a whole group. Alternatively they would make good extension materials for high ability students or those with a particular interest in Astrophysics.