Dying Stars and the Birth of the Elements

The XMM-Newton Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) group at Sonoma State University, together with Project CLEA (Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy) at Gettysburg College, have created of a new CLEA activity entitled "Dying Stars and the Birth of the Elements." In this computer-based exercise, high school and college students analyze realistically simulated X-ray spectra of a supernova remnant and determine the abundances of various elements in them. In the end, they will find that the elements necessary for life on Earth—the iron in their blood, the calcium in their bones— are created in these distant explosions.

The XMM-Newton CLEA activity consists of a teacher manual and the software (PC version only) to model X-ray spectra from a supernova. The manual has instructions for the installation and execution of the activity, student worksheets, and extended information/activities for teachers. We have also created a pre- and post-test for use in assessing the activity.

While performing this activity, students will learn basic science skills such as spectral analysis, model fitting, and statistical analysis. They will also get a feel for how supernovae create elements, the quantity these elements created in supernovae, and how these elements are critical to our own existence.

Quick Start:

-Open the file called XRaySNR_Manual.pdf-Read the section “Installation Instructions and Software Setup” for instructions on installing and using the activity(508 version called XRaySNR_Manual508.pdf).

-Download the executable file