Overview: Crab Nebula

of "Lithograph: Crab Nebula (M1)"
Lithograph: Crab Nebula (M1) (PDF)
(520K; Adobe Reader required)
This Hubble Space Telescope image of the Crab Nebula (M1), one of the most studied objects in space, depicts the remains of a star that exploded as a supernova nearly a thousand years ago. The lithograph text describes the observational history of the nebula from its formation as a spectacular supernova explosion to its rediscovery over 700 years later and its distinction as the first pulsar discovered. Includes a classroom activity.
Format(s) available: PDF
Grades: 9-12, 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: Crab Nebula (M1) 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.

An example of a supernova remnant. Use the inquiry-based classroom activity called "In Search of Supernova Remnants" that is included with the PDF lithograph.

Related materials

HubbleSite press release: "A Giant Hubble Mosaic of the Crab Nebula"

See the Stars and stellar evolution section on "Teaching tools" page.

Overview: Crab Nebula