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Cygnus X-1
Find the mass of
Cygnus X-1
Find the velocity of
the galaxy M31
HT Cas
Find the diameter of
HT Cas

You Be the Astrophysicist!

Many times, the best way to learn about something is to do it. We think the best way to learn about what an astrophysicist does would be to spend a day (or two or three) in the shoes of one. But since we don't have room for everyone who visits our web site to visit our lab, we've tried to do the next best thing. In these web pages, you will be given a real problem in astronomy which you solve by traveling through web pages, exploring different options and learning many different things along the way.

Science is a process of inquiry. Scientists propose hypotheses and test them with experiments. In these pages you will begin with several options for experiments that may lead to the answer you are seeking. Scientists go down many paths that turn out to be dead ends. In these pages, you will encounter some dead ends, too. But often a scientist learns much from a "dead end". You will find that is true here as well.

As you travel through the pages in the site to answer the question you are given, you will have the chance to read about relevant concepts in astronomy and test your skills with interactive quizzes. You should take the time to take the interactive quizzes. For each one that you successfully complete, you will be given a record at the end of skills and concepts you have learned. [NOTE: This record may not show up on some browsers, such as Safari.] You will have the opportunity to take different paths and to try different techniques. Different paths are indicated by buttons as well as descriptions. Some buttons you will encounter (and what you will find there) include:

Info To get more information
Experiment To choose an experiment
Tools To use calculations and tools
Data To look at some data
Quiz To take a quiz

Important: When you encounter a quiz to test what you have learned, always press the "check me" button to check your answer and proceed (rather than pressing the return button). By taking the quizzes, you will generate a list of concepts you have learned by exploring these problems. Teachers: If you like, you can ask students to print out the final page, which contains a list of new skills or concepts the student has mastered in his or her journey. Many of these skills correspond in some way to National Science or Math standards. Thus these printouts can be used as an assessment tool for this activity.

[NOTE: This record may not show up on some browsers, such as Safari.]

As always, we appreciate your comments about these projects.

Now you can choose an astronomy question to solve from the list below:

Cygnus X-1 Find the mass of Cygnus X-1
M31 Find the velocity of the galaxy M31
Ht Cas Find the diameter of HT Cas

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

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