Overview: Helix Nebula Knots

of "Lithograph: Helix Nebula 'Knots' "
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Lithograph: Helix Nebula "Knots" (PDF)
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This Hubble Space Telescope image of a section of the Helix Nebula, the closest planetary nebula to Earth, shows ball-shaped knots of gas. Information about the knots and their relationship to the missing mass in our galaxy, called "dark matter," is described in the text.
Format(s) available: PDF
Grades: 10-12, 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: Helix Nebula "Knots" 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 about the image. The students' 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 another classmate’s questions. Ask students to find the answers to the questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

• Enlist volunteers to read their questions while you or a student records them on the blackboard or on an overhead projector transparency. Ask students to raise their hands if they have the same or a similar question. Record that number next to the question. Once all the 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, 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 answered partially, and an "N" for those not answered at all. Determine if the most commonly asked questions were also answered completely. Encourage students to do further research to find answers to the unanswered questions.

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

Related materials

HubbleSite press release: "Hubble Finds Thousands of Gaseous Fragments Surrounding a Dying Star"

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

Go to the resource

Overview: Helix Nebula Knots