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

Astronomy 210, fall 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 someone could fall into a black hole forever. It makes black holes seem truly endless."

"The way black holes warp space"

"Learning about binary systems was interesting to me, and how both stars were born at the same time, but evolve at different rates."

"How the star goes through so many different stages and transforms from a massive main sequence star, to a super giant, and then into a black hole or neutron star."

"The different types of novae/super novae. I was familiar with type 1a super novae but never knew what the other types were. It's cool to finally know, although I'm sure there are other types or other large explosions that weren't covered."

"I've always found black holes interesting. It's fascinating how something can be so small and dense that it pulls everything close enough into it and doesn't let it out."

"I have heard the terms nova, supernova, etc. before and have always wondered what conditions created them. Learning about the life of white dwarfs and how depending on the rate they accumulate hydrogen from a host will determine the class over explosion that happens."

"The video of Lake Berryessa was pretty cool to watch. I seems so unreal."

"I thought the comparison between a giant's outer layers and blowing on the back of your hand. It was a really good representation of expansion cooling."

"Star death because I've never really given any thought as to whether a star lives or dies and the core implosion-explosion AstroBlaster because that's something I would try."

"It's interesting to learn a low mass star will have a lifetime much longer than a massive star. I find it fascinating that no low mass star has ever died it would be interesting to know what that would look like."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"The entire chapter, though interesting, was a lot to take in and was thus somewhat confusing."

"What black holes really do."

"All of the lives and deaths and phases of different stars get jumbled together in my head. I just need to take more time to go over them."

"The event horizon."

"I need more clarification between the different supernovas--I was getting them confused with one another."

"The different medium-mass star stages and how to tell which one is which, because I keep getting them all mixed up."

"The deaths of different stars"

"Space-time curvature was pretty confusing to me. I don't understand the flatness and distorted-space time around objects. "

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 Hummer would have to have a larger fuel tank."

"The Hummer has a lower mpg, but makes up for it with a bigger gas tank--it uses up gas quicker, but can hold a lot more of it. On the other hand, the SmartCar gets good mpg but does not hold very much gas. In the end this balances them out, giving both cars the same range."

"Actually to be quite honest, I don't understand the question."

Match the end-of-life stage with the corresponding main-sequence star.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Black hole: massive main sequence star [88%]
Neutron star: massive main sequence star [64%]
White dwarf: medium-mass main-sequence star [67%]
(No stellar remnant observed yet: low-mass main-sequence star [70%]

Match the type of explosion (if possible) with the corresponding main-sequence star.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Type II supernova: massive main sequence star: [79%]
Type Ia supernova: medium-mass main-sequence star [78%]
Nova: medium-mass main-sequence star [58%]
Low-mass main-sequence star: (no explosion possible) [58%]

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.  ****** [6]
hours.  * [1]
days.  [0]
a year.  ** [2]
many years.  **** [4]
forever.  ******************* [19]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  * [1]

The first rule of astronomy class is...
"Don't skip class."

"Go to P-dog's blog (it's boring but important)."

"Read, study, don't procrastinate, and don't show up too early or too late to a house party."

"Go to class."

"To master the unknown."

"Be there, or be square...AKA fail."

"Always drink plenty of water before going to class."

"What ever I want it to be."

"Call your instructor 'P-dog.' Not 'Professor Len.'"

"Show up for class, put in effort."

"Look at the stars and question life?"

"What's the evidence? That the evidence must support the theory. Test the hypotheses against the evidence."

"Be ready to have your mind blown."

"Don't talk about astronomy class."

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Is our midterm the week after Veterans day, or two weeks from then?" (The midterm is the night before Thanksgiving. :0)

"Is our final cumulative?" (Yes, but selectively cumulative, not everything cumulative. You'll be given a finite list of things to study, and if it's not on the study list, then it's not on the final exam.)

"The second rule of astronomy class is..." (DON'T TALK ABOUT ASTRONOMY CLASS. #siristhisatest)

"Did you watch the movie Interstellar? If so, what did you think?" (I didn't think, I tried to go with the feels. #TARSrules)

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