About This Chapter
Below is a sample breakdown of the Star Death and Stellar Remnants chapter into a 5-day school week. Based on the pace of your course, you may need to adapt the lesson plan to fit your needs.
|Day||Topics||Key Terms and Concepts Covered|
|Monday||Supernovae and supergiant stars|
Degenerate electron pressure
Death of lower-main-sequence stars
|Definition of supernova, red giant, steps in the life of giant stars|
Why dying stars become giants, how energy generating processes change, hydrogen shell, triple alpha process
How degenerate elections, pressure and temperature influence helium fusion, Coulomb barrier
Methods by which stars die, convection, carbon fusion
|Tuesday|| Planetary nebulae|
Horizontal branch stars
Binary systems and novae
|How planetary nebulae form, their composition, thermal pulse, luminosity|
Asymptotic branch stars, red giant branch stars
Composition and size of white dwarfs, degenerate electrons, black dwarfs
Roche lobe, accretion disks, LaGrange points
|Wednesday||How death begins for a massive star|
Explosion of massive stars
Types of supernovae
Life cycle for neutron stars
| How changes in nuclear fusion reactions lead to death|
The actual explosion, strong force, neutrinos, gamma ray
Types of supernovae, including Type I, Type Ia and Type II, the Chandrasekhar Limit
How a neutron star is formed, black holes, pulsars
|Thursday|| Neutron stars and supernova remnants|
Binary pulsars and pulsar planets
Life cycle of black holes
Escape velocity and singularity
|Definition of neutron stars and supernova remnants, interstellar medium|
Definition of pulsars, Jocelyn Bell, electromagnetic radiation
Definition and characteristics of binary pulsars and pulsar planets
Steps in the life of a black hole, event horizon, singularity
Escape velocity, singularity
|Friday||Event horizon and the Schwarzchild radius|
Finding and leaping into black holes
| Explanation of event horizon and Schwarzschild radius in relation to black holes|
Schwarzschild black hole, what if you fell into a black hole?
Definition of gamma-ray bursts, hypernova, magnetars
How the Milky Way recycles material, Big Bang, nebulosity, supernovae
Definition and origin of cosmic rays
1. Supernova and Supergiant Star Life Cycle
Learn about one of the biggest explosions known to humankind - a supernova. Follow a star's life cycle and learn how a star changes from a red giant to a supernova to a black hole or neutron star.
2. Giant Stars and Helium Fusion
This lesson will explain to you why a star nearing its end will become a giant star, and how the energy generating processes in its core will change as a result.
3. Helium Fusion and Degenerate Electron Pressure
Standard gas laws need not apply under the special circumstances described in this lesson with concepts like degeneracy, degenerate electron pressure, helium fusion, and the Coulomb barrier.
4. How Lower-Main-Sequence Stars Die
Not every star lives or dies the same way. Red dwarfs and medium-sized stars have key differences that determine their lifespan and how they die. This lesson will tell you why that is the case.
5. What Are Planetary Nebulae?
This lesson will define something very cool and beautiful called a planetary nebula. You'll not only learn what it is but how it's formed, and why it produces all those amazing colors!
6. What Are White Dwarfs? - Stellar Remnant Characteristics
White dwarfs are incredible little stellar remnants. Which begs the question, are they actually stars or not? This lesson will tell you if and why and how white dwarfs come to be. That, and you'll learns some incredible facts about them as well.
7. Binary Systems and Novae
This lesson will explain for you something known as the Algol paradox, what binary stars are, and how Roche lobes, the inner Lagrange point, novae, accretion disks, and novae are all involved in binary systems.
8. How Massive Stars Begin To Die
The ways massive stars and smaller stars evolve near their end are very different. This lesson will explain where they diverge, why, and what factors influence the beginning of the end for massive stars.
9. Supernova: How Massive Stars Explode
This lesson will explain how it is that a supernova comes to be by delving into how concepts like iron, core contraction, a core bounce, the strong force, and neutrinos all play a role in this event.
10. The Different Types of Supernovae
There are different types of supernovae, and this lesson will tell you what they are and what their differences are. We'll mainly focus on type II supernovae and types Ia and Ib supernovae.
11. Life Cycle of Neutron Stars
Discover the life of a neutron star, including how it's born after a supernova explosion and how its extreme pressure causes protons and electrons to combine into neutrons. Discover also how pulsars are rotating neutron stars that will eventually slow down to become regular neutron stars.
12. What are Neutron Stars and Supernova Remnants?
This lesson will describe what happens after a supernova explosion occurs. Something known as a supernova remnant or neutron star may remain after the explosion, and you'll find out why that's important and how they form.
13. What Are Pulsars?
This lesson will define and describe pulsars. Importantly, you'll learn why the term is a bit of a misnomer, what acts as a pulsar and why, and what it pulses out.
14. Binary Pulsars & Pulsar Planets
This lesson will describe important concepts related to pulsars, namely binary pulsars, such as pulsar planets, millisecond pulsars, and gravitational waves.
15. Life Cycle of Black Holes
Learn about black holes, their myths and their reality. Learn how black holes form after stars undergo supernovae and create singularities. Discover how big black holes grow, how scientists find black holes and where black holes are located in the universe.
16. Black Holes: Escape Velocity and the Singularity
This lesson defines black holes and introduces two important concepts related to them, escape velocity and singularity, so you can build a base for further investigation of concepts related to black holes.
17. Black Holes: the Event Horizon and Schwarzschild Radius
This lesson describes the event horizon and the Schwarzschild radius, including their implications on the gravitational attraction a black hole exerts on the universe around it.
18. Finding and Leaping into Black Holes
Did you ever wonder what would happen if you fell into a black hole? Is it a good idea to use it for time travel? And what would your friends see as you fell in? Using this lesson on finding one might reveal it's not such a good idea. Or is it?
19. The Origin of Gamma-ray Bursts
Gamma-ray bursts are so powerful, they may one day destroy us. But where do they come from? Find out as we define gamma-ray bursts, hypernovae, and magnetars in this lesson.
20. Cosmic Recycling: From Stellar Death to Human Life
Did you know that you are related to the stars you see in the sky? Did you know that you're made of recycled material? This lesson will tell you how and why.
21. Red Giant, Horizontal & Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars
This lesson will outline how stars of low to intermediate mass die as seen on the H-R diagram. We'll cover important key terms such as red giant branch stars, asymptotic branch stars, and horizontal branch stars.
22. Cosmic Rays: Definition & Origin
This lesson will explain what cosmic rays are (including primary and secondary cosmic rays), where they come from, if you should be worried about them, and what you can do to protect yourself from them if need be.
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