Overview: Colliding Galaxies

of "Lithograph: Colliding Galaxies"
Lithograph: Colliding Galaxies (PDF)
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This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the cores of the twin Antennae galaxies. The galaxies are so named because their collision produced two long tails of luminous matter that resemble an insect's antennae. A ground-based image showing these "antennae" is also included, and the text provides a description of the stellar fireworks seen in the Hubble image.
Format(s) available: PDF
Grades: 6-12, but the material can be adapted for use in other grades at the teacher's discretion
How to use it in the classroom

Teachers can use Lithograph: Colliding Galaxies as:

An engagement tool in an inquiry-based lesson. Have students study the image side of the lithograph. Ask them to write down three to five questions they have about the image. When the students are finished, their questions can be used in a variety of ways:

• Ask students to find the answers to their questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

• Have students exchange papers so that each student has someone else's questions. Then have them find the answers to the other students' questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

• Gather the questions into a list by asking students to volunteer to read their questions while you or another student records them on the board or overhead. Ask students to raise their hands if they had the same or a similar question. Count the number of hands raised and record this number next to the question. Once all the student questions have been added to the list, have students search for the answers to their questions in the text on the back of the lithograph. When they complete that task, ask them to decide if each of their questions was answered completely, answered partially, or not answered at all. Go through the original list and place an "A" in front of the questions that were answered completely, a "P" for those that were partially answered, and an "N" for those that were not answered at all. Determine if the most commonly asked questions were also completely answered. Encourage students to do further research to find answers to the unanswered questions.

A content reading tool. Have students read the back of the lithograph and then write a quiz for the class.

A component in a compare/contrast activity. Have students compare the features/structure of this galaxy to those of the Whirlpool Galaxy found in the related materials below. A T-chart or Venn diagram would be a good organizational tool to use for this activity. Examples are included in the related materials.

Related materials

Lithograph: Whirlpool Galaxy

Graphic organizer: Comparison of the Warped Galaxy and the Whirlpool Galaxy

HubbleSIte press release: "Hubble Reveals Stellar Fireworks Accompanying Galaxy Collisions"

See the Galaxies section on "Teaching tools" page.

Overview: Colliding Galaxies