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Stars and stellar evolution
Pillar in the Carina Nebula
Half size lp pillar in the carina nebula 2x
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Photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the tip of a huge pillar of star birth in a turbulent stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula. Nestled inside this dense structure are fledgling stars. The stars cannot be seen in this image because they are hidden by a wall of gas and dust.

Facts of interest about the image

Although the infant stars are invisible, one of them is providing evidence for its existence. Thin puffs of material can be seen traveling to the left and to the right of a dark notch in the center of the pillar. The matter is part of a jet produced by a young star.

Classroom activity

Included is an inquiry-based classroom activity that focuses on the image and text.

Description

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the tip of a huge pillar of star birth in a turbulent stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula. Nestled inside this dense structure are fledgling stars. The stars cannot be seen in this image because they are hidden by a wall of gas and dust. Although the infant stars are invisible, one of them is providing evidence for its existence. Thin puffs of material can be seen traveling to the left and to the right of a dark notch in the center of the pillar. The matter is part of a jet produced by a young star. Included is an inquiry-based classroom activity.

PDF
11-12, but the material can be adapted for use in other grades at the teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Teachers can use this lithograph as:

An example of star formation. Use the inquiry-based classroom activity, "In Search of … Star Birth," 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...: Peering through a dense cocoon of dust in the Carina Nebula

HubbleSite press release: “Hubble Opens New Eyes on the Universe”

HubbleSite press release: “HST Reveals Stunning Detail in Herbig-Haro Object”

HubbleSite press release background info: “Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera Reveals Splendor of 'Supergiant' Nebula”

Amazing Space resources by topic: Stars and stellar evolution