High School Projects
X-ray astronomy is not a subject people are used to discuss about on their spare time or in a party or just watching television. It is usually simply not known. And that’s a pity, since X-ray astronomy is one of the most interesting field in contemporary astrophysics. It allows scientists to look at the sky in a totally different way than they are accustomed to, observing very powerful phenomena which are not visible in the optical light.
Follow us in this didactic activity, and you will discover a brand new universe, with exotic populations of vampire stars, monstrous black holes, fast spinning neutron stars and many other weird members. You will be able to discover some of them with the appropriate scientific method, using the tools that EXTraS scientists designed for their own investigations.
In the following, the EXTraS Education Activity (EXEAt) is described briefly. Please, give it a glance before going on:
- Introduction: in the X-ray sky, an enquiry based learning activity
- Chapter 1: Physics background
- Chapter 2: X-ray Astronomy background
- Chapter 3: XMM-Newton and EXTraS
- Chapter 4: EXTraS Software
- Chapter 5: Do what Scientists Do
Chapters 1 to 3 are related to physics background (ch. 1), X-ray astronomy background (ch. 2), XMM-Newton and EXTraS (ch 3). A full set of presentations in English and Italian was prepared. Interested teachers and students can download the lessons and modify them. The modified versions can be submitted to the EXTraS team (see email below), to ensure a major engagement of teachers’s professionality and improve the educational quality of the project itself. Links to other professional and educational sites are provided.
These resources allow teachers to provide their students with the essential background information. Although most of the education resources are in English, our experience tells us it is suitable also for Italian and German teachers and students, at the level EXEAt is targeted to. Yet, some of our education resources are available also in German and in Italian.
Chapter 4 is dedicated to the EXTraS software. It includes the necessary links to download the VirtualBox and the set of pre-reduced data extracted from the EXTraS archive. There is also an instruction manual which helps to load the EXTraS environment file on the Virtual Box.
Chapter 5 is a a step-by-step “cookbook”, which guides students and teacher through the whole validation process and the search for a counterpart. The cookbook is extensively commented, with strong references to the background lessons mentioned above.