Online reading assignment: medium-mass stars, massive stars, neutron stars and black holes (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2015
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on the evolution of medium-mass stars, massive stars, neutron stars and black holes.

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"That something as important to Earth as the sun will end up as white dwarf."

"If you were to leap into a black hole, your watch would tell you it took two months to reach the event horizon. Friends watching you would never see you reach the event horizon."

"I liked looking at the different types of novae. Very cool and pretty."

"That all heavy elements were produced by supernovae."

"For once, nothing seemed interesting. I think that's a bad sign."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Black holes. I'm not really sure on how they work."

"The example of marbles going down the funnel for black holes. I don't understand how that exactly relates to time dilation."

"Black holes are simply confusing."

"Im still trying to comprehend the Hummer and the SmartCar example. HELP PLEASE!"

"Black holes are confusing like whaaaaaaaat. They trip my mind out."

"The difference between a nova and supernovae."

"How are the pulses of a neutron star pulsar produced?"

A Hummer H2 and a SmartCar ForTwo can travel the same distance with a full tank of gas. Briefly explain how this is possible.
"The SmartCar gets better mileage with a smaller tank, while the Hummer has worse mileage but with a bigger tank, allowing both cars to travel the same distance."

"Not sure yet, still trying to understand."

"Going different speeds."

"I was confused on this part of the reading."

Match the end-of-life stage with the corresponding main-sequence star.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Black hole: massive main sequence star [52%]
Neutron star: massive main sequence star [41%]
White dwarf: medium-mass main-sequence star [33%]
(No stellar remnant observed yet: low-mass main-sequence star [41%]

Match the type of explosion (if possible) with the corresponding main-sequence star.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Type II supernova: massive main sequence star: [74%]
Type Ia supernova: medium-mass main-sequence star [63%]
Nova: medium-mass main-sequence star [22%]
Low-mass main-sequence star: (no explosion possible) [59%]

If you were to leap into a black hole, your friends would typically watch you falling in for __________ before you entered the event horizon.
seconds.  ** [2]
hours.  ** [2]
days.  ** [2]
a year.  [0]
many years.  **** [4]
forever.  ************** [14]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  *** [3]

The first rule of astronomy class is...
"Never regard Pluto as a planet."

"Call you P-dog!"

"Show up and do the work."

"P-dog is always right no matter what."

"Have someone else jump into the event horizon of a black hole for you."

"Ask for proof of everything."

"Look up!"

"Always talk about astronomy class."

"Don't talk about astronomy class." (4 responses.)

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"What happens to a white dwarf star once it completely cools off?" (It should eventually become a black dwarf once it becomes too cool to emit light. This process, however, would take longer than the age of the universe (so far), so it is merely conjecture at this point.)

"If you could push anyone into a black hole who would it be?" (Matthew McConaughey and TARS. Because if anyone can make it back out, they will. Or maybe only TARS, just to see what it would say.)

"The sun is not massive enough to die the supernova death of massive stars." (So, do you think this is a good or a bad thing?)

"How much of this will be on the test? And is there any special people besides you that I can contact for astronomy help?" (The North County learning center has just found an astronomy tutor--one of my best students from last semester!)

"Where is the nearest planetarium located?" (Did you know that San Luis Obispo High School has their very own planetarium? #wut)

"Just look at all those chickens." (I know--just look at them.)

"What did you do for spring break? (Mainly just trying to keep up with Mrs. P-dog.)

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