Science - 2017-18

ES.13 - The Universe

The student will investigate and understand scientific concepts related to the origin and evolution of the universe. Key concepts include
a) cosmology including the Big Bang theory; and
b) the origin and evolution of stars, star systems, and galaxies.

Bloom's Levels:  Analyze; Understand

Adopted: 2010


  • The Earth exists in the solar system, in the Milky Way galaxy, and in the universe, which contains many billions of galaxies.

  • I can determine if travel to other galaxies is possible in my lifetime.
  • I can predict when the sun will "burn out."


  • The universe is vast in size and very old.
  • The Big Bang theory is our best current model for the origin of the universe. The Big Bang theory states that the universe began in a very hot, dense state that expanded and eventually condensed into galaxies.
  • The solar nebular theory is our best current idea for the origin of the solar system. The solar nebular theory explains that the planets formed through the condensing of the solar nebula. 
  • Stars have a finite lifetime and evolve over time. The mass of a star controls its evolution, lifespan, and ultimate fate. Stars form by condensation and gravitational compression of interstellar gas and dust. 
  • The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram illustrates the relationship between the absolute magnitude and the surface temperature of stars. As stars evolve, their position on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram moves. 
  • Galaxies are collections of billions of stars. The basic types of galaxies are spiral, elliptical, and irregular. 
  • The solar system is located in the Milky Way galaxy. 
  • A light-year is the distance light travels in one year and is the most commonly used measurement for distance in astronomy. 
  • Much of our information about our galaxy and the universe comes from ground-based observations across the electromagnetic spectrum. Much information about other planets comes from ground-based observations from Earth, but also from landers and orbiting spacecraft


In order to meet this standard, it is expected that students will

a)  contrast the life span and energy output of a blue giant star to that of the sun and relate this to the potential existence of life on planets in its orbit. 

     explain the potential origin and role of ultra massive black holes in the center of galaxies.

     using the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, classify stars as to their place on the main sequence or in beginning or end points in their life cycles.

     analyze the various fusion products of a blue giant star over its lifetime, and relate this to the presence and abundance of elements that make up our solar system and its contents, including living organisms. 

a-b)  evaluate the probability of travel to nearby solar systems using current spacecraft speeds.


absolute magnitude, apparent magnitude,  big bang theory, black hole, elliptical galaxy, galaxy, H-R diagram, irregular galaxy, light year, magnitude, main sequence stars, Milky Way, nebula, parallax shift, protostar, spiral galaxy, white dwarf, red shift, luminosity

Updated: Nov 28, 2017