Black hole classroom activities — Quick reference guide (Chapter 5)

astroEDU
astroEDU
Sep 3, 2018 · 3 min read

Previously, we have published 4 chapters of the quick reference guide for activities about black hole formation, gravity and spacetime, models of black holes and spaghettification. In this post, you will find chapter 5: Black hole detection.

1. DETECTING A BLACK HOLE THROUGH ACCRETION

Age: 6+

Learning objectives:

Understand that a black hole can form an accretion disk that emits light, allowing it to be detected.

Comments:

The activity requires a space for the activity to be conducted safely in the dark.

Instruction:

Credit: UNAWE Flickr

2. SPOTTING A BLACK HOLE BASED ON THE ORBIT OF STARS

Age: 6+

Learning objectives:

To illustrate where a black hole could be, nearby stars can appear to orbit around nothing, but in fact there is a hidden black hole that causes the stars to keep this orbit.

Comments:

The activity requires a free space for activity to be conducted in the dark safely. Alternatively, white or bright color shirt can be used to represent stars instead of glow stick if dark room is not available.

Instruction:

3. STARS ORBIT AROUND A BLACK HOLE, ILLUSTRATED BY THE ATTRACTION OF LOOSE BALL BEARINGS TO A HIDDEN MAGNET

Age: 6+

Learning objectives:

Using magnets and loose ball bearings to understand the effect black holes have on nearby stars.

Comments:

Simple and straightforward activity to show how stars orbit, are captured or deflected by a black hole.

Instruction:

4. RECORDING AND INTERPRETING DISTORTED IMAGES AS SEEN THROUGH GRAVITATIONAL LENSING

Age: 8+

Learning objectives:

Understand how images appear after being gravitationally lensed (as seen through a curved glass) and how astronomers use the distorted images to reconstruct the original image.

Comments:

This activity allows students to realize the gravitational lensing phenomenon by themselves.

Instruction:

  • ftp://gemini.haystack.mit.edu/pub/edu/pcr/blackholes/ Physics%20Modules/04%20-%20The%20Electromagnetic%20 Spectrum%201%20-%20Gravitational%20Lensing/03%20 -%20Gravitational_Lensing_Activity.pdf
  • https://www.dropbox.com/s/tno9fa8qhs4mb8y/gemini%20 haystack.pdf?dl=0
Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

5. THE GRAVITY OF A BLACK HOLE GIVES AWAY ITS LOCATION, ILLUSTRATED WITH MARBLES AND MAGNETS

Age: 11+

Learning objectives:

Understand that the gravity of a black hole could allow it to be detected.

Comments:

  • The principle behind gravitational lensing is illustrated; as light passes near a black hole, it gets deflected.
  • Develop observation and analytical thinking skills.

Instruction:

6. GRAVITATIONAL LENSED IMAGES AS SEEN THROUGH THE BASE OF A WINE GLASS

Age: 11+

Learning objectives:

To familiarize with how light and images are distorted through gravitational lensing by a black hole.

Comments:

This activity requires the base of a wine glass to be cut off. However, a similar activity can be conducted by observing through the base without separating it from the glass.

Instruction:

You can download the pdf of the entire booklet here, the e-book here and the zip-file with all needed files to make a translation here.

Peer-reviewed Open-access Astronomy Education Activities Platform http://iau.org/astroedu

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