Overview: Omega Centauri

of "Lithograph: Core of Omega Centauri (NGC 5139)"
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Lithograph: Core of Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) (PDF)
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This image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals a small region inside the massive globular cluster Omega Centauri, which boasts nearly 10 million stars. This colorful assortment of 100,000 stars residing in the crowded core of the cluster is one of the first images taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3. Included is an inquiry-based classroom activity.
Format(s) available: PDF
Grades: 11-12, 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: Core of Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) as:

An example of different stages in a star’s life. Use the inquiry-based classroom activity, "In Search of … Stellar Evolution," which is included with the PDF lithograph.

An engagement tool in an inquiry-based lesson. Have students study the images on the lithograph. Ask them to write down as many questions as possible about the features visible in the images. The students’ questions can be used in a variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions:

• 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 those questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

• Ask for volunteers to read the questions as someone records them on the blackboard or on an overhead transparency sheet. Ask students to raise their hands if they have the same question or something similar. Count the number of raised hands and record the total next to the question. Once all the students’ questions have been added to the list, ask them to search for the answers to their questions in the text on the back of the lithograph. When they have completed 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 those 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 answered completely. 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 write a quiz for the class.

Related materials

Tales of … Colorful stars galore inside globular star cluster Omega Centauri

Graphic Organizer: Comparison of globular and open star clusters

HubbleSite press release: “Astronomers Find Suspected Medium-Size Black Hole in Omega Centauri”

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

Overview: Omega Centauri