This activity is designed to help students gain a deeper understanding of cosmology. Students develop authentic models and gather evidence supporting the Big Bang theory. This lesson uses observation, interactive media, and scientific models.
By completing this activity, the learner will:
Activity 1: Explore and define the Hubble Law.
Learning Cycle Format
Using the graph at the right, have students explore the various axes and look for clues to what the graph might mean. In particular, the horizontal axis is distance from our galaxy, the Milky Way, to other galaxies. The vertical axis is recessional velocity. Note how there is a clear proportionality between distance and recessional velocity. This proportionality is known as the Hubble Law. The slope of this line, with dimensions of velocity over distance, is called the Hubble Constant. The inverse of the Hubble Constant then has the dimension of time, and can be taken as an estimate of the age of the Universe.
The Hubble Law states that the recessional velocity of a distant galaxy is proportional to its distance from us. The recessional velocity of a galaxy is measured by examining the Doppler shift of lines in the spectrum of flight from the galaxy. The distance to the galaxy is more difficult to measure, but can be estimated from its apparent angular size or by the brightness of objects in it.
1. In this activity, you are going to create a model of the expanding Universe. You will need one balloon, a flexible metric ruler and a paper strip for conducting measurements, a copy of this page, and a marker.
2. Use the markers to make 10 - 15 dots on the balloon and number 10 of them after the balloon is partially inflated.
3. Inflate balloon with 4 medium breaths to about the size of your fist; do not over inflate the balloon!
4. Bend the end of the balloon down and paper clip it so that no air escapes.
6. Measure and record the distance between dot number one (your "home" dot) and neighboring dots with the METRIC RULERS. Be careful not to indent the balloon by pressing on it.
7. Now measure and record the distance between dot number one (your "home" dot) and the other 10 dots with the paper strip. Note any differences in the two measuring techniques.
8. Double the size of the balloon by inflating it slowly; do not over inflate the balloon! Measure and record the data from the enlarged balloon using both tools.
9. Answer the summary questions below.
Why do you think this is or is not so?
b. What relationship exists between the speed of the galaxies moving apart and their initial distance from one another?
Name this Law.
c. Which measuring tool was more accurate?
d. What is harder for the astronomer to measure: A galaxy's redshift (indicating recessional velocity) or its distance from Earth? Why?
Explain your answer.
Explain how astronomers use
Cepheid variables to determine distance.
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STSci) in Baltimore maintains current information and press releases regarding findings from the Hubble Space Telescope. With a partner, investigate one of the many cosmology findings from the HST. Create an electronic report that describes the HST finding and how it relates to the balloon activity you just completed.
Cosmology is the search for origins. It seems as if everyone wants to know how the Universe began. The Big Bang theory is the result of several important observations. In 1927, Edwin Hubble first observed that light from distant galaxies is red shifted and that galaxies are moving farther and farther away from us. Second, he determined that the farther away a galaxy is from us, the faster it is receding from us. If the Universe is expanding, then one can assume that the galaxies that compose our Universe were once much closer together than they are now. By simply measuring how far apart galaxies are and how fast they are moving, we determine the Hubble Constant (estimates range from 50 to 100 km/s per kiloparsec). It is very easy to determine the recessional velocity of galaxies; on the other hand, their current positions are difficult to measure. Distances to galaxies are typically measured by finding Cepheid variable stars or supernovae with known brightness.
If we run the expansion process backward, we get two results. The first is that it probably took approximately 15 billion years for the Universe to grow to its present size. Second, the Universe must have begun its expansion in an awesome event that astronomers call the Big Bang.
There are four fundamental observations and inferences that suggest that a Big Bang of some type did actually occur very long ago.
What are some examples that
demonstrate the difference between an observation and an inference?