In orbit since 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured incredible images of the universe. Stars forming in nebula, the remains of a supernova explosion 1000 years after the fact, thousands of galaxies and a comet crashing into the planet Jupiter have all been seen in Hubble's images.
Scientists believe that the universe began as an extremely dense ball of matter which could be held in the hand. As it expanded it cooled and began spinning. Hydrogen and helium were the first elements to be created. As they swirled, atoms began to stick together forming clouds which became stars.
Inside the stars, the heat and pressure increased causing elements lighter than iron to be created. It struck me how the process of element creation inside the stars is much like the process of cooking.
In the stars Helium and Hydrogen are the ingredients that go in,
heat and pressure are added,
elements lighter than iron are created.
In baking bread flour, milk, eggs, salt, baking powder and zucchini are the ingredients that go in,
heat is added,
bread is created.
In both cases the new product looks much different than the initial ingredients.
Since a spiral is a common shape of galaxies, I asked the kids if they could find any spirals while we made zucchini bread. We found one.
Here's the spiral we found!
Next, we burned a ball of newspaper and compared it with the life cycle of a star.
Since we were pretty sure our paper wasn't going to explode, we concentrated on the second life cycle.
Next we lighted our star on fire and watched the life cycle.
Still an average star
Still a red giant
Outer layers peel away - planetary nebula
Still a planetary nebula
Becoming a white dwarf
To see more of our astronomy lessons please visit our Science Page.
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