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Modern Gravitational Lens Cosmology for Introductory Physics and Astronomy Students
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10. A. Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (Empire Books, New York, 2013).
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24. M. J. Jee, R. L. White, N. Bentez, H. C. Ford, J. P. Blakeslee, P. Rosati, R. Demarco, and G. D. Illingworth, “Weak-lensing analysis of the z ≈ 0.8 cluster CL 01521357 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys,” Astrophys. J. 618 (1), 46 (2005).
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Recent and exciting discoveries in astronomy and cosmology have inspired many high school students to learn about these fields. A particularly fascinating consequence of general relativity at the forefront of modern cosmology research is gravitational lensing, the bending of light rays that pass near massive objects. Gravitational lensing enables high-precision mapping of dark matter distributions in galaxies and galaxy clusters, provides insight into large-scale cosmic structure of the universe, aids in the search for exo-planets, and may offer valuable insight toward understanding the evolution of dark energy. In this article we describe a gravitational lensing lab and associated lecture/discussion material that was highly successful, according to student feedback. The gravitational lens unit was developed as part of a two-week summer enrichment class for junior and senior high school students. With minor modifications, this lab can be used within a traditional classroom looking to incorporate topics of modern physics (such as in a unit on optics).
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