NASA
Pencil and Paper Activities

PENCIL & PAPER ACTIVITIES

Pencil Coding Activities

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Recoloring the Universe
Level 1 // De-Coding Starlight

The Scenario
You have just discovered a brilliant new supernova remnant using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The Director of NASA Deep Space Research has requested a report of your results in her office in 45 minutes. Unfortunately, your computer crashed fatally while you were creating an image of the supernova remnant from the numerical data and you also lost a small amount of back up data. To fix the situation you will create, by hand, an image of the supernova remnant.

Grade: 4-8 /Topics: coding, color, astronomy

Recoloring the Universe
Level 2 // De-Coding Starlight

The Scenario
You have discovered a new supernova remnant using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The Director of NASA Deep Space Research has requested a report of your results. Unfortunately, your computer crashed fatally while you were creating an image of the supernova remnant from the numerical data. To fix this, you will create, by hand, an image of the supernova remnant.

Grade: 8-12 /Topics: coding, color, astronomy

Learn more about the Recoloring the Universe program.


NASA SpaceMath

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Understanding cosmic distance to a supernova remnant
Students work with a photograph to determine its scale and the time taken by light and matter to reach a specified distance. 

Grade: 6-8 /Topics: Scale drawings; unit conversion; distance = speed x time


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Rate of change of expanding debris for a supernova remnant
Using a millimeter ruler and a sequence of images of a gaseous shell between 2000 and 2005, students calculate the speed of the material ejected by Supernova 1987A.

Grade: 6-9 | Topics: Measuring; Metric Units; speed=distance/time


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Chemical makeup of part of Cassiopeia A's atmosphere:
Students determine the mass of the carbon atmosphere of the neutron star Cas-A.

Grade: 8-10 | Topics: Volume of spherical shell; mass = density x volume


Other activities include:

A Pulsar Shot Out from a Supernova Explosion! Exploring the Evaporating Exoplanet Giant Gas Cloud in System NGC 6240 Chandra Sees a Distant Planet Evaporating Estimating the Size and Mass of a Black Hole The Crab Nebula: Exploring a pulsar up close!
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Galaxy Basics

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Galaxy Clusters Optical/X-ray Comparison

What is the X-ray Universe? Why observe the Universe with different types of telescopes? These questions and others are answered. Special feature: an activity in which you make an X-ray image of a galaxy cluster.


The Universe in a Jelly Bean Jar

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Most of the Universe is dark. The protons, neutrons and electrons that make up the stars, planets and us represent only a small fraction of the mass and energy of the Universe. The rest is dark and mysterious. How can X-rays help reveal the secrets of this darkness?


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Chandra X-ray Center, Operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. This site was developed with funding from NASA under contract NAS8-03060.