Discussion Questions: Colliding Neutron Stars Create Black Hole and Gamma-ray Burst
- How can we tell what might be happening in outer space? What data can we collect to help us “see” places we can’t go?
- In astronomy, “far away” translates into “long ago.” Why is this true?
- What do you think happens to stars when their energy runs out? How do stars die?
- How do gamma ray bursts give us clues about the magnitude of gravitational and magnetic forces?
- Why did scientists decide to simulate or model two neutron stars colliding?
- What did you notice about the pattern of magnetic field lines? How did that pattern relate to the particle jets that produce the gamma ray bursts?
- Why do you think extreme phenomena like black holes or colliding neutron stars would produce gamma rays?
- Why do we observe gamma ray bursts rather than a continuous flow of radiation? Does the video provide any clues or insights about this question?
- When have you used a model or simulation to learn something new or to test a hypothesis? How can you assess the validity of a simulation or model?
- Bonus Question: Why do you think the supercomputer took six weeks to reveal something that happens in a tiny fraction of a second?