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Out of this World

Vocabulary words for middle school students dealing with astronomy

spectroscopeinsturment that breaks up the light from a star into its characteristic colors
prismpiece of glass that bends light so it forms a spectrum
galaxyhuge collection of stars
red shiftshift toward the red end of the spectrum of a star moving AWAY from the earth
blue shiftshift toward the blue end of the spectrum of a star moving TOWARD the earth
constellationa group of stars that form a pattern
big bang theorytheory that states the universe was formed by the explosion of very dense and hot matter compacted into a small area
gravityforce of attraction between objects
Milky Way Galaxygalaxy in which the earth's solar system is located
elliptical galaxiestype of galaxy that can vary in shape from nearly spherical to a flat disk
irregular galaxiestype of galaxy with no definite shape
spiral galxytype of galaxy that is made of a thick mass of material and flattened arms that spiral around the center. Our galaxy is a spiral galaxy.
nebulagas and dust cloud
nebular theorytheory that states that the solar system began as a huge cloud of gas and dust called a nebula
open clusterslarge, loosely organized groups of stars
binary starspair of stars that revolve around each other
novastar that suddenly increases in brightness and soon after slowly becomes dimmer
PolarisNorth Star
eclipsing binariesbinary star system in which one star blocks out the light form the companion star
giant stara star with a diameter 10 to 100 times that of the sun
supergiant starstar with a diameter up to 1000 times that of the sun
white dwarfssmall, very dense star
neutron starssmallest type of star that results from the supernova of a massive star
magnitudemeasure of a star's brightness
apparent magnitudemeasure of a star's brightness as it appears from earth
absolute magnitudeactual amount of light a star gives off
variable starsstar with a brightness that varies
cepheid variable starspulsating variable star: star that varies in brightness
parallaxapparent change in theposition of a star in the sky due to the change in the earth's position as it moves around the sun
supernovatremendous explosion in which a star breaks apart, releasing energy
black holecore of a supermassive star after a supernova

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