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Gamma-Ray Bursts

Lesson Plans
  1. Spectral Wavelengths (University of California)
      Provides a lesson to study spectral wavelengths, using data from four different satellite observatories. 3-01

  2. Star Properties (University of California - Keys and Hawkins)
      Provides a lesson to study the properties of stars using analysis of light. 3-01

  3. Temperatures of Stars (University of California)
      Provides a lesson to study stellar temperatures. 3-01

  1. Earth from Far, Far Away and Very, Very Close (Florida State University - Davidson)
      "View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons."

  2. Globular Cluster (
      "A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galactic core as a satellite. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shapes and relatively high stellar densities toward their centers. The name of this category of star cluster is derived from the Latin globulus—a small sphere. A globular cluster is sometimes known more simply as a globular." 10-09

  3. Planetarium - Create a Planetarium From a Position on Earth (Walker)
      Provides "Your Sky," a view of the stars from a position on Earth. 8-01

  4. Stars and Nebulae - Printable Pictures (NASA - Spaceplace)
      Provides printable color pictures of stars, galaxies, and nebulae. Includes the Butterfly, Carina, Eagle, Hourglass, Eskimo, Orion, Stingray, Trifid, and the NGC3132 nebula. (The files are rather large and will take a while to load on a 28.8k modem) 9-01

  5. Westerlund I (
      "Westerlund 1 (sometimes abbreviated Wd1) is the most massive compact young star cluster known in the local group of galaxies and is about 3.5-5kpc away from Earth." 10-09

  1. View the Stars (NASA)
      Provides resources for students to study astronomy. 10-08

  1. -04-28-09 Astronomers Find Most Distant Object (CBS News)
      "Astronomers have spotted a burst of energy from a dying star, setting a record for the oldest and most distant object seen by Earth yet." 04-09

  2. -07-21-10 Monster Star Very Big (Christian Science Monitor)
      "R136a1 could once have been 320 times as massive as the sun. That's twice as massive as scientists thought a star could be. Perhaps R136a1 is several stars close together, some say." 07-10

  3. How to Make a Star (National Ignition Facility)
      "In this process the capsule and its deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel will be compressed to a density 100 times that of solid lead, and heated to more than 100 million degrees Celsius – hotter than the center of the sun. These conditions are just those required to initiate thermonuclear fusion, the energy source of stars." 05-09

  1. -"Blue Hook" Stars Finally Explained (Huffington Post)
      "Astronomers may have just solved a mystery 10 billion years in the making."

      "It has to do with so-called 'blue hook' stars, which have less than half the mass of the sun but burn 10 times hotter and are far more luminous. No one was ever able to explain the stars' unusual properties."

      "Until now." 07-15

  2. -Light Captured from the First Stars in the Universe (MSNBC News)
      "Astronomers have spotted light from the very first stars in the universe, which are almost as old as time itself." 11-12

  3. A Supersun Is Born in the Milky Way (
      "The most common stars in the Milky Way by far are runty M-dwarfs — only half as big as the Sun but eight times as numerous. The galaxy does have a few massive stars floating around, but not many: only one in 10,000 stars measures up to the generation of giants that lived and died so long ago."

      "That being the case, a new paper under submission to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics is especially intriguing: using the Atacama Large Millimeter-submillimeter Array telescope (ALMA), which was formally dedicated just four months ago, astronomers have caught one of these nearly extinct monsters in the act of formation, deep within a cloud of cold gas and dust floating some 11,000 light-years from Earth. 'Not only are these stars rare,' said co-author Gary Fuller, of the U.K.’s University of Manchester, in a press statement, 'but their birth is extremely rapid and their childhood is short, so finding such a massive object so early in its evolution is a spectacular result.' " 07-13

  4. Antimatter Space Ships (
      Describes how an antimatter space ship might produce a great deal more energy than any other source now known and even allow interstellar travel, travel to other planets from distant stars. 06-07

  5. Astronomical Distances (
      "The parsec (symbol pc) is a unit of length used in astronomy. It stands for 'parallax of one arc second'."

      "One parsec is defined to be the distance from the Earth to a star that has a parallax of 1 arcsecond. It is, therefore, approximately:...3.261630751 light years."

      "One kiloparsec, abbreviated 'kpc', is one thousand parsecs, or 3,262 light years. Kiloparsecs are typically used to measure distances between parts of a galaxy."

      "One megaparsec, abbreviated 'Mpc', is one million parsecs, or 3,261,564 light years. Megaparsecs are typically used to measure distances between neighboring galaxies and galaxy clusters."

      "One gigaparsec, abbreviation 'Gpc', is one billion parsecs — one of the largest distance measures used. One gigaparsec equals 3.261564 billion light years, or roughly ¼ the distance to the horizon of the observable universe (dictated by the cosmic background radiation). Gigaparsecs are typically used to measure distances to supergalactic structures, such as clusters of quasars or the Great Wall." 01-07

  6. Astronomy Search Engine (Fourmilab)
      Provides an astronomy search engine (in partnership with Google). 8-01

  7. Brightest Stars (Dolan)
      Provides a list of the 26 brightest stars, in order of brightness from the Earth. 1-02

  8. Dying Star Image (Yahoo)
      Provides a dramatic photo of a dying star, Menzel 3 or Mz3, that looks like a rainbow-colored ant and challenges theories about how stars die. 2-01

  9. Fastest Space Traveler Located (Scientific American)
      "Superman may be faster than a speeding bullet, but there is a neutron star in our galaxy that can compete for the title of fastest space traveler. Astronomers have tracked the movement of a pulsar, making the first direct measurement of its impressive speed." 9-05

  10. Gamma Ray Observatory (NASA - Compton Gamma Ray Observatory)
      Describes the work of the Observatory. 1-02

  11. Hypernovae or Death Stars (NASA - Imagine the Universe)
      Describes a new type of explosion, one of the most powerful in the universe, that releases enormous amounts of gamma rays. 1-02

  12. Hypernovae or Death Stars (PBS - Bonnell)
      Describes a new type of explosion, one of the most powerful in the universe, that releases enormous amounts of gamma rays. 1-02

  13. Messier Catalog of Objects in the Night Sky (
      Provides a list and description (including small picture) of objects visible in the night sky with a small amateur telescope. 7-02

  14. NASA Working on Spaceship Concept to Travel to the Stars (
      "Don’t expect to go Alpha Centauri-hopping any time soon, but the idea well down the road, according to a presentation delivered by White on the subject last year, would involve a spacecraft leaving Earth, traveling a given distance using conventional propulsion, stopping (relative to the Earth), enabling its “warp field,” then traveling to a point near its interstellar destination, where it would then disable the field and continue on its way using conventional propulsion methods once more."

      "Instead of taking 'decades or centuries,' White says this would allow us to visit a spot like Alpha Centauri — a little over four light years from us — in as little as 'weeks or months.' " 09-12

  15. Neutron Star Collision (
      "Astronomers witnessed for the first time ever a rare collision of two dense neutron stars. The discovery began with an instrument called LIGO, which won this year’s Nobel Prize for its discovery of gravitational waves once predicted by Albert Einstein. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien joins Hari Sreenivasan to explain how the collision was detected and what it reveals about the universe." 10-17

  16. Plan to Visit a Nearby Star (CNet)
      "The program will be built around technology that uses light to propel a tiny spacecraft that can collect data and images and send them back to Earth. The 'nanocraft,' which can fit in the palm of your hand, will carry cameras, photon thrusters, a power supply, and navigation and communication equipment."

  17. Pleiades (
      "The Pleiades (also known as M45 or the Seven Sisters) is an open cluster in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest to the Earth of all open clusters, probably the best known and certainly the most striking to the naked eye."

      "The distance of the cluster is very important as it is a crucial step in determining the distance scale of the whole universe." 01-06

  18. Solar Sail Powered Space Ships 1 (NASA)
      Describes how solar sail powered spacecrafts might be best for long space missions. 11-00.

  19. Solar Sail Powered Space Ships 2 (NASA)
      Describes how solar sail powered spacecrafts might be best for long space missions. 11-00.

  20. Star Clusters (
      "Star clusters are groups of stars which are gravitationally bound. Two distinct types of star cluster can be distinguished: globular clusters are tight groups of hundreds of thousands of very old stars, while open clusters generally contain less than a few hundred members, and are often very young." 01-06

  21. Star Map (
      Provides a map of the major stars as they currently appear. Allows rotation of the map and identifies specific stars by clicking on them. 11-00.

  22. Star Map - 3D (
      Provides maps around major stars and allows zooming in and out. 11-00.

  23. Star Mythology and Constellations Across Cultures (SPARC)
      Provides mythologies of different cultures. 3-02

  24. The Celestial Hand (MSNBC News)
      "An X-ray probe's picture of a celestial 'Hand,' 17,000 light-years from Earth, has stirred up spiritual responses on a par with the Hubble Space Telescope's famous Pillars of Creation and the Eye of God - plus a couple of lighthearted laughs." 04-09

  25. The Very First Stars (
      "Astronomers have a pretty good idea how the universe took shape following the Big Bang — with one glaring exception. About 400,000 years after the great detonation itself, as the super-heated particles it created cooled and formed into atoms, the entire universe went black. A few hundred million years later, the darkness began to lift as the first stars congealed from clouds of cosmic gas. 'The universe,' says Voker Bromm, of the University of Texas at Austin, 'underwent a crucial transition from a very simple state into a state of ever more complex structure.' "

      "Scientists used high-energy radiation from blazars to measure the light from the first stars." 11-12

  1. Astronomy - Stars Worksheet (
      Provides a worksheet on the stars. 11-00.


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