HR Diagram Activity (30 points)

Brief Overview of Activity: Use an HR diagram to learn about the differences between the stars in our stellar neighborhood and the brightest stars in the sky.

Required Items: this HR diagram, red & black ink pens.

Procedure:

On the HR diagram, plot each star from the “Brightest Stars Group” in black ink and then plot each star from the “Nearest Stars Group” in red ink. Data for both groups of stars can be found below.

Describe any differences between the two groups of stars – such as their location on the diagram, color, mass, and the types of stars in each group.

Which of the two groups of stars is most representative of the vast majority stars in the universe?

Data

Brightest Stars Group

Name

Spectral Type

Absolute Mag

Sirius

A1

1.45

Canopus

F0

-5.63

Rigel Kentaurus

G2

4.39

Arcturus

K2

-0.32

Vega

A0

0.61

Capella

G8

-0.52

Rigel

B8

-7.01

Procyon

F5

2.66

Betelgeuse

M2

-5.48

Achernar

B3

-2.71

Hadar

B1

-4.78

Altair

A7

2.22

Aldebaran

K5

-0.63

Acrux

B0.5

-4.18

Spica

B1

-3.44

Antares

M1

-5.12

Fomalhaut

A3

1.75

Pollux

K0

1.07

Deneb

A2

-6.90

Mimosa

B0.5

-3.90

Nearest Stars Group

Name

Spectral Type

Absolute Mag

Sun

G2

4.83

Proxima Centauri

M5.5

15.48

Alpha Centauri A

G2

4.38

Alpha Centauri B

K0

5.71

Barnard’s Star

M3.5

13.25

Wolf 359

M5.5

16.64

Lalande 21185

M2

10.44

Sirius A

A1

1.44

Sirius B

A2

11.34

Epsilon Eridani

K2

6.20

Lacaille 9352

M1

9.76

Ross 128

M4

13.53

61 Cygni A

K5

7.48

61 Cygni B

K7

8.31

Procyon A

F5

2.65

Procyon B

A0

12.98

Struve 2398

M3

11.17

Groombridge 34

M1.5

10.31

Epsilon Indi

K4

6.98

Tau Ceti

G8.5

5.68

Radioactive Dating Activity (due at Stage 2) (30 points)

Brief Overview of Activity: Radioactive decay is one of the sources of the heat that drive the Earth’s geologic activity. Radioactive decay also allows us to date rocks and determine the age of the Earth and other solar system bodies.

Required Items: 36 coins, a calculator, pencil & paper.

Procedure:

In this activity you will simulate the radioactive decay of 36 atoms of a rare isotope of uranium, U-235. Uranium-235 has a half-life of 700 million years. Gather 36 coins and arrange them in a 6 x 6 grid with all of the coins facing heads up.

Flip each coin into the air and then place it back in its original location on the grid. This represents the passage of 1 half-life (700 million years for this example). The coins that came up heads represent atoms that have not yet decayed; the coins that came up tails represent atoms that have decayed. Record the number of heads below.

Next flip each one of the remaining heads-up coins once and place it back in its original location. 1.4 billion years have now passed by (2 x 700 million). Record the number of remaining heads below. Repeat this process until all coins are tails up.

_______ Original number of U-235 atoms

_______ Remaining number of U-235 atoms after 1st flip

_______ Remaining number of U-235 atoms after 2nd flip

Add additional lines as needed.

Questions:How many half-lives did it take for all of the atoms to decay? How many years does that equate to? Do you think everyone in class will get the same answer? Why?

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