Take a Journey of Discovery with RXTE - Classroom Activity

Objective:

 Collect and graph data from the All-Sky Monitor(ASM) Observe and analyze light curves in order to gather data about a source

Exploration:

 Read Mission #2 Review the hyperlinks on black holes, neutron stars, and light curves

Explanation:

Each team will collect data from a mysterious source in the Galactic Center Region. Using this data, the team members will create a light curve. The team will also observe, analyze, and record information regarding the light curves from two black holes, CYG X-1 and LMC X-3 and two neutron stars, X1705-440 and SMC X-1.

Elaboration:

 Click here to download the data from the mystery source. Print a copy of the data for each member of the team. Label this printout "Mystery Source Data Points" Calculate how many data points each person must plot. There are 184 points that must be plotted. Each mission specialist will be responsible for plotting 1/4 of the points. Decide which points each person will plot. Discuss with your team what should be included on the graph using the "Seven Parts of a Graph" as a guide. Write on the back of the "Mystery Source Data Points" sheet the following information: the title of the graph the appropriate labels for both the x and y axis the units of measurement the origin the increments

Next:

• Pair up with a mission specialist on your team. Each pair of mission specialists needs a sheet of graph paper to plot the data points.
• While one mission specialist reads the data points the other specialist will plot the data points on the graph paper. Each mission specialist should only plot his/her assigned data points.
• Once the team has plotted all the data points, the two graphs should be taped together to create one graph.
• Connect the points to create a smooth graph.
• The team should review the completed light curve to ensure all seven parts of the graph have been included.
• The team will now use the computer to view four completed light curves and answer questions about the light curves.
 Click here to view the light curves of two black holes, CYG X-1 and LMC X-3. Print the light curves of two black holes, CYG X-1 and LMC X-3. Answer the following questions about the two light curves: What features in the light curve of the mystery source are similar to the features of the light curves of the two black holes? What features in the light curve of the mystery source are different from the features of the light curves of the two black holes? Click here to view the light curves of two neutron stars, X1705-440 and SMC X1. Print the light curves of two neutron stars, X1705-440 and SMC X1. Answer the following questions about the two light curves: What features in the light curve of the mystery source are similar to the features of the light curves of the two neutron stars? What features in the light curve of the mystery source are different from the features of the light curve of the two neutron stars?

Evaluation:

 Use a rubric to evaluate the correctness of the light curve graph.

Proceed to Mission #3