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Our Universe. Universe Objectives ( 8.8)  Science concepts. The student knows characteristics of the universe. The student is expected to: (8.8A)  describe components of the universe including stars, nebulae, and galaxies.

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Universe Objectives

(8.8)  Science concepts. The student knows characteristics of the universe. The student is expected to:

(8.8A)  describe components of the universe including stars, nebulae, and galaxies.

(8.8B)  Recognize that the Sun is a medium sized star near the edge of a disc-shaped galaxy of stars and that the sun is many thousands of times closer to Earth than any other star.

(8.13C)  Explore how different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum such as light and radio waves are used to gain information about distances and properties of components in the universe.

(8.8D) Model and describe how light years are used to measure distances and sizes in the universe.

refracting telescopes
Refracting Telescopes

a set of lenses (curved glass) gather and focus light.

The light bends as it passes through a curved objective lens.

reflecting telescope
Reflecting Telescope

Mirrors gather and focus light to magnify image.

Astronomers use this type since they are larger and gather more light.


Radio Telescope

Radio Waves!

What type of electromagnetic wave do these telescopes gather?


Radio Telescope

Because radio waves are so big!

Why are these Radio telescopes so large?


McDonald Observatory is located in the Davis Mountains, 450 miles west of Austin, Texas.

There is a log of light pollution around cities

Why are telescopes usually far from cities?

x ray telescope
X-Ray Telescope

Why is this telescope more powerful than the radio or visible telescope?

X-rays have a higher frequency (more energy)


Reflecting Telescope

Where is the hubble space telescope?

Orbiting the Earth outside of it’s atmosphere?


Clouds and air can not interfere with image.

the universe

The Universe

Consists of all space and the matter space contains.

Astronomy is the study of all physical objects beyond Earth.

The Universe


  • Galaxies
  • Stars
  • Comets
  • Quasars
  • Nebulas or Nebulae (Nebula)

Large groups of stars

Astronomers estimate from the size and brightness of the galaxy how many sun-sized stars it might have.

how many galaxies can be seen here

How many galaxies can be seen here?

At least 15.

How many stars are in each galaxy?

Millions. The bigger and brighter – the more stars.


There are three main types:






  • Characterized by a bulge at the center and spiral arms
  • Spiral shape is caused by the rotation of the galaxy



How many stars are in this picture?


MILLIONS! This is not our solar system.

This is millions of stars very close together.



  • Characterized by a very bright centers and very little dust and gas
  • Appear elongated or spherical and are basically massive blobs of stars
  • Composed of mostly old stars

If you rotated an elliptical shape, what would it look like from the end?

A Circle

Side View

End View




  • Galaxies that do not fit into any other class
  • As their name indicates they have irregular shapes



Contents of Galaxies

Billions and billions of stars!

Some planetary systems too!


Gas clouds or nebulas

Star Clusters


  • Huge, Dense, Hot, Bright balls of gas trillions of km away from Earth
  • Made up of different elements in the form of gasses

dirty ice, dust, and gas balls with huge elliptical paths.

Comets range in their orbital Periods from orbiting every 3 years to orbiting just once in 10,000 years!

Hale-Bopp comet

gas clouds
Gas Clouds
  • Nebulas or Nebulae - Latin for “Cloud”
  • Giant clouds of gas and dust
  • Where new stars are formed
  • Found in spiral galaxies; not in elliptical galaxies
  • May glow, absorb light or reflect starlight
star clusters
Star Clusters

Globular clusters:

  • Groups of older stars
  • Looks like a ball of stars
  • Found in a spherical halo or

ring that surrounds spiral galaxies (such as the Milky Way) and giant elliptical galaxies.

Omega Centauri

open clusters
Open Clusters
  • Groups of stars that are usually located along the spiral disk of a galaxy.
  • Bright, blue stars are found in newly formed open clusters


would a spiral elliptical or irregular galaxy be more likely to contain open clusters why
Would a spiral, elliptical, or irregular galaxy be more likely to contain open clusters? Why?
  • Spiral – because they are newer/younger galaxies than elliptical or irregular.
origin of galaxies
Origin of Galaxies


  • star like sources of light that are the most distant objects from Earth
  • among the most powerful energy sources
  • may be the core of young galaxies
how far away is it
How far away is it?

This is how it looked 6 billion years ago

  • 6 billion light–years away
  • A light year is equal to the distance that light travels through space in 1 year
  • How far is that?
    • 9.46 trillion km per year

You are looking back in time 6 billion years!

formation of the universe
Formation of the Universe

Cosmology is the study of the origin, structure, and future of the universe.

To understand how the universe formed, scientists study the movement of galaxies.

Most galaxies are moving apart.

the big bang theory
The Big Bang Theory
  • All matter once existed in 1 small, extremely dense spot.
  • The universe began with a tremendous explosion.
  • Now everything in universe is expanding .

Looking through the center of the Milky Way

Which color do you see more of in this picture of the stars?


Which wave is longer; red or blue?
  • If a star is moving towards you what color will it be?
  • If a star is moving away from you, what color will it be?

Blue Shift

Red Shift



Looking through the center of the Milky Way

So what does the color of these stars tell us about their movement?

Doppler Effect -

Wavelength changes due to motion