Gamma-Ray Bursts

What do you get when you combine the Cold War with black holes? You get one of the greatest scientific mysteries in the history of astronomy! Pupils discover how our quest to keep the Soviet Union from launching nuclear weapons helped to discover the most violent of cosmic events—the gamma-ray burst. The narrator discusses the two events that cause the bursts, both of which result in black holes.

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Instructional Ideas
  • Part history, part mystery, you can use the resource to introduce a lesson on cosmic events or to illustrate progressive research on a single unknown that spanned many years
  • Consider pairing the video with a lesson on the Manhattan Project and nuclear weapons research
Classroom Considerations
  • Provide a quick review of the properties of black holes prior to watching the video
  • Narrator gives a concise explanation of how Einstein's Theory of Relativity predicted one of the events capable of generating a gamma-ray burst
  • The video is engaging and allows learners to get an up-close look at how black holes are born
  • None