Overview: Crab Nebula history

Overview
of "Tales of … A history of the Crab Nebula"
Description:
Tales of … A history of the Crab Nebula details the formation of the Crab Nebula as a result of a supernova, the first observation of this object in 1054, and the subsequent discovery of a pulsar (a neutron star) at its center. This selection originally appeared as background information for a press release on the Crab Nebula.
Format(s) available: Printer-friendly web page
Grades: 8-12, 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 Tales of … A history of the Crab Nebula as:

A content reading selection. Teachers should discuss the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary prior to having students read this selection.

An engagement activity. Have students read the selection. Ask them to identify the events that led astronomers to conclude that a neutron star resides at the center of the Crab Nebula.

An inquiry tool. Propose a question, such as "Did early astronomers see anything out of the ordinary?" Have students read the selection and write down as many questions as they can about the information in the text.

A source of information. Students can use this as an example of the early history of astronomy and the discovery of pulsars. In this case, Europeans have no record of the supernova, but the Chinese and Native Americans do. The pulsar in the Crab Nebula was one of the first to be identified. Have students identify the events that led to this discovery.

Related materials

Press release: "Hubble Captures the Heart of the Orion Nebula"
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/1997/13

Press release: "Hubble Astronomers Unveil 'Crab Nebula -The Movie'"
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/1996/22



Overview: Crab Nebula history