Gravity's Fatal Attraction
Take yourself deep inside black holes and modern ideas about gravity, space, time, and solar system formation. Current ideas might surprise you!
For Educators Grades 6-12
NOTE: Agenda is tentative and subject to change.
Black Holes Workshop Draft Agenda
This workshop will introduce the predicted properties of black holes, the astronomical evidence for their existence, and their importance in the cosmos. Modern ideas about gravity, space, and time will also be explored.
Some key topics for discussion include the following:
- What is a black hole?
- Predicted properties of black holes
- Stars and their fates
- How to detect a black hole
- Black holes in our backyard
- Hypernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer
- The supermassive black Hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy
- Supermassive black holes in galactic nuclei
- Black-hole pyrotechnics: Active galaxies and jets
- Spinning black holes
- Hawking radiation: Are black holes really black?
- Singularities. What's inside a black hole?
Pennsylvania Science Education Standards
- Physical Sciences Standard C – Forces and motion
- Physical Sciences Standard D – Composition and structure of the universe
Dr. Niel Brandt has been at Penn State since 1997 and is currently a professor in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Previously he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. Brandt uses X-ray satellites, including the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission-Newton, to study the physics and evolution of active galaxies and other cosmic X-ray sources.
He is an author of more than 320 research papers and leads a small research group including postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students. He also regularly teaches courses on introductory astronomy, high-energy astrophysics, black holes, and active galaxies.
His favorite rock bands include the Beautiful South, the Eagles, and the Smiths.
Dr. Christopher Palma has substantial experience in education and public outreach in astronomy, and in 2003 he was hired as a full-time astronomy outreach faculty member at Penn State.
Since 1995 he has been involved in numerous formal and informal science education programs. As a graduate student, Chris provided summer enrichment labs for a local school, created an "Astronomy Question & Answer" website staffed by graduate students, and was the guest astronomy expert on a local AM radio talk show.
At Penn State, Chris has continued to participate in outreach by giving presentations and running demos at the community outreach event run by Penn State called AstroFest, presenting the Fall 2003 Penn State Friedman Lecture in Astronomy to an audience of 500, giving planetarium shows to visiting K-12 classes, and designing and implementing three summer camps for K - 8th graders with astronomy, space exploration, and astrobiology themes.
Since 2001, Chris has served as Director and a Lead Instructor for the Penn State In-Service Workshops in Astronomy. His teaching responsibilities have included courses for both undergraduate astronomy majors and introductory astronomy for non-science majors.
He has authored and taught several on-line astronomy courses to both distance education and Penn State resident student audiences.
As an astronomy teacher I am asked questions about this material to very great detail.
I feel after this workshop that I am much better prepared for these questions and can possibly better identify some of the main misconceptions that would go along with black holes.
Anonymous attendee of Black Holes Workshop