Using graphical and pictorial representations to teach introductory astronomy students about the detection of extrasolar planets via gravitational microlensing

Colin S. Wallace, Timothy G. Chambers, Edward E. Prather, Gina Brissenden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The detection and study of extrasolar planets is an exciting and thriving field in modern astrophysics and an increasingly popular topic in introductory astronomy courses. One detection method relies on searching for stars whose light has been gravitationally microlensed by an extrasolar planet. In order to facilitate instructors' abilities to bring this interesting mix of general relativity and extrasolar planet detection into the introductory astronomy classroom, we have developed a new Lecture-Tutorial called "Detecting Exoplanets with Gravitational Microlensing." In this paper, we describe how this new Lecture-Tutorial's representations of astrophysical phenomena, which we selected and created based on theoretically motivated considerations of their pedagogical affordances, are used to help introductory astronomy students develop more expert-like reasoning abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Volume84
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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