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TCrane Tutoring Newsletter

The TCrane Tribune provides you with new things to explore, and see what's new in Science these days.  We'll try to keep you up on things!


A Galaxy of Roses

Gravity. It spans time and space.  It shapes, creates, destroys.  It can be as gentle as the pull on the earth's oceans, or as violent as to tear whole stars apart and eject the debris millions of miles into space.  It is a power that is everywhere and yet we do not understand much of its basic structure.

In celebration of the Hubble Space Telescope's deployment in April 2011, astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute pointed Hubble's eye to an especially photogenic group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273.

The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disk that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. A swath of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. These massive stars glow fiercely in ultraviolet light. 

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Creating New Stars

It is truly amazing that at one time people said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Today, an image can hold a thousand thousand books of information! The Hubble Space Telescope has revolutioaized how we view images, and how scientists see the sky.  The photo of galaxy NGC 278 here is a perfect example.

This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, shows a spiral galaxy named NGC 278. This cosmic beauty lies some 38 million light-years away in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia (The Seated Queen).

While NGC 278 may look serene, it is anything but. The galaxy is currently undergoing an immense burst of star formation. This flurry of activity is shown by the unmistakable blue-hued knots speckling the galaxy’s spiral arms, each of which marks a clump of hot newborn stars.

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Galaxy Collisions!

Okay, I know I am getting carried away, but this is seriously cool stuff. Maybe even really hot stuff. Here are pictures of galaxies colliding. The two glowing centers are the supermassive black holes that will eventually collide. Usually they are hidden, but you can see them in the infared light spectrum because they are extremely hot from their feeding frenzy.


Star Colors

Look back at the images in the previous articles and notice the wide variations in the star colors.  Some are red and others blue,  some are white and still others yellow and even green! Have you ever wondered what causes these differences?  The folks at Absolute Beginners have created a star chart that tells you exactly why stars vary in color. 


 Star Color Chart

GREEN / WHITE                  Type W & O     36000+oC

Giant very hot active stars

BLUE                                     Type B              28600+ oC

Very hot Helium stars

WHITE                                   Type A              10700+ oC

Large hot stars

YELLOW / WHITE               Type F              7500+ oC

Stars larger & brighter than our sun

YELLOW                               Type G              6000+ oC

Like our sun

ORANGE                               Type K              4800+ oC

Cooler stars

ORANGE / RED                   Type M             3400+ oC

Old dying stars

RED                                       Type N & S      2500+ oC

Cool Carbon stars



For more details go to the Absolute Beginners web site


Heavy Elements from Neutron Stars?

Most chemical elements heavier than helium were born in the death throes of stars; the explosive energy of a supernova is responsible for generating most of the contents of the periodic table. Now, a new observation hints that another type of explosion—caused by the collision of two neutron stars—could be responsible for the production of many heavy nuclei, including gold.

Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics identified a red point of light at the same location as a powerful explosion known as a short duration gamma-ray burst. This is the first identification of an optical counterpart to this type of gamma-ray burst, and it could be the signature of new neutron-rich elements being produced in the aftermath of the explosion. If that conclusion is correct, then this observation is powerful support for the idea that colliding neutron stars are responsible for many gamma-ray bursts and the origin of some heavy elements.



What Makes Up an Element?

 Understand the Periodic Table of Elements and you'll understand what's inside everything you see. You don't need to be a NASA scientist to be able to explore the universe at depth when you know the elements.  Even something as simple as water can come in different forms. How can that be? Jefferson Labs has a great approach to understanding the Elements.  Their web site will randomly pick an element and present you with that element's data from the Periodic Table of Elements. Then, you can use that information to answer the question that the computer asks about the number of protons, neutrons, electrons or nucleons (particles in the nucleus) that the atom contains.

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What is a Sine Wave?

You hear about sine waves all the time.  It's how radio works (both AM and FM).  It's how television works.  It's even how your microwave works!  But did you know that a sine wave is really just another way to describe a circle?  Yup.  That's all there is to it. If you go to the Interactive Mathematics web site and scroll down, you'll see an active illustration of how the sine describes a circle.  Mathematics describes real world things.  Unlike what many people say, it is not an abstract science.  Rather, it is a very solid and tested way to describe real things.

It's all trigonometry and that's why builders can create bridges, buildings, freeways, automobiles, engines, hydro-electric dams, and space stations.  All with math, including sine waves.  Is it complicated?  Not really.  Trig is about describing a circle with numbers. Once you understand what the numbers mean - you can build almost anything. Check it out!  Don't believe me?  Call us and let's find out just how trig works in the real world!


Multiplication Rhymes

 (Numbers squared)

Graph of numbers 1 through 9 multiplied by themselves

1x1 went for a run, one got tired, and then there was just 1

2x2 went to explore, the number of hamsters they found was 4

3x3 climbed a pine, when they got to the top it was half-past 9

4x4 was a truck so mean that to drive it you had to be at least 16

5x5 hit a bee hive, the stingers pulled out totaled 25

6x6 took some pix, their photo album contained 36

7x7 looked so fine, because they were only 49

8x8 fell on the floor, when they got up they were 64

9x9 had some fun, their jokes, all told, were 81

10x10 went to bed, when they woke-up they were a 100

11x11 got some sun, their temperature went up to 121

12x12 got real sore, their pushups equaled 144