Throughout this trimester, we have completed several activities to help us answer our driving question of, “which Planets would be the most habitable and how can we determine this.” In order to organize our process of learning and how we can find these planets, we divided the question into three learning units. Our units included Nuclear Reactions and Star, Waves and light, Analyzing stars, and Circular motion and orbits.
Our first unit was Nuclear Reactions and Stars. This unit was focused on teaching us the properties of nuclear reactions, where they occur, and how they help us find stars, relating directly to our driving unit. The main idea of this unit was that there are three types of nuclear reactions. Radioactive decay is the release of either an electron, a helium atom, or energy, in an unstable and large elements. Fission is the process of when a neutron traveling at fast speeds strikes a large element, causing it to split into two elements and the release of usually around three neutrons. Finally, fusion occurs when two elements fuse together, producing a large amount of energy. This process requires extreme heat, like that of stars, in order to create an environment where all molecules move around at fast speeds, making them susceptible to fusion. Therefore, stars produce extreme amounts of energy through fusion. The heat produced by the sun makes fusion happen all the time. Next, through learning the equation E=mc^2, we realized that even a small amount of mass loss, which occurs in fusion, produces a large amount of energy. To sum up this unit, we learned about the evolutionary paths of stars and how they are affected by their mass. Basically, average mass stars go through a simple path of stellar nebula, protostar, average star, red giant, white dwarf. However, high mass stars go through a stellar nebula, high mass star, super red giant, supernova, then either a neutron star or black hole. It becomes a...
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