ASTR 112 Study Guide

  1. Introduction
  2. Navigating the sky
  3. Light
  4. Atoms & Spectra
  5. Telescopes
  6. Sun
  7. Stars
  8. Low Mass Stellar Evolution
  9. High Mass Stellar Evolution
  10. Milky Way
  11. Galaxies

Introduction & Background Material

  • Define three units of length used in astronomy.
  • How do we use scientific notation?

Navigating the Sky

  • Describe three constellations visible in the spring sky & how to find them.

Light & Spectra

  • What are the main parts of an atom?
  • Explain the process of absorption and emission of light by atoms.
  • What are the three main types of spectra? List an example of a source for each.
  • How does a star’s spectrum tell us about its composition?

Telescopes

  • What is a telescope?
  • List the two main kinds of visible light telescopes. How are they different?
  • What are some benefits of mirror-based telescopes over lens-based ones?
  • How is magnification determined?
  • What is angular resolution? How does telescope size affect it?
  • What are some problems with visible light telescopes?
  • What other wavelengths are also studied with telescopes?

Sun

  • List the three layers of the Sun’s atmosphere and a feature of each.
  • What are sunspots? How do they form?
  • Why is the corona so hot?
  • What is the solar cycle? What effect does it have on the Sun?
  • What is a CME? How does it differ from a prominence?

Stars

  • What are the different kinds of binaries?
  • What is the `center of mass’?
  • How do we determine the (surface) temperature of stars?
  • What is luminosity? What does it depend on?
  • What is an HR diagram? Sketch one and indicate major features.
  • What is the Main Sequence? Why is it important?
  • How do we date the age of clusters of stars?
  • Explain the difference between apparent and absolute magnitudes.
  • Discuss the elements which make up the `distance ladder’.

Low Mass Stellar Evolution

  • What causes a star to form in the first place?
  • What process defines a star?
  • What is hydrostatic equilibrium? Why is it important?
  • What is the Main Sequence? What does it represent?
  • Detail the stages of development (core & envelope) of a low mass star.
  • What is the composition of the final core of a low mass star?
  • What are planetary nebulae? White dwarves? Brown dwarves?
  • What is electron degeneracy pressure? Why is it important?

High Mass Stellar Evolution

  • How is fusion in a high mass, main sequence star different than in a low mass star?
  • Detail the stages of development (core & envelope) of a high mass star.
  • Why can’t we fuse iron?
  • What is a supernova?
  • Why can we be described as `star stuff’?
  • How do we make use of supernova light curves?
  • What is neutron degeneracy pressure? Why is it important?
  • When do neutron stars form? What are they?
  • What is a pulsar?
  • How do black holes form? What evidence do we have they exist?
  • What are supermassive black holes? Where do we think they exist?

Milky Way

  • What kind of galaxy do we live in? What is its name?
  • Where in our galaxy is our Sun located?
  • How do we `weigh’ a galaxy?
  • What do galactic rotation curves tell us?
  • What leads to the spiral structure we see?
  • What are the leading candidates for `dark matter’?

Galaxies

  • What were galaxies originally believed to be?
  • List the three main types of galaxies.
  • What is a galaxy’s `halo’?
  • What sort of structure do we see when we look at large numbers of galaxies?
  • Why do the two main kinds of galaxies have such different characteristics?
  • What sort of evidence is there for the importance of galactic collisions?
  • What are Quasars? Why are they only seen at great distances?