Lesson Plan: Using Supernovae to Measure Distances to other Galaxies Physics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to use the peak absolute magnitude of type 1a supernovae to determine how far away they are.


Students will be able to

  • describe what causes a type 1a supernova,
  • recall that type 1a supernovae have a peak absolute magnitude of approximately 19.3,
  • use 𝑚𝑀=5𝑑10log in different permutations to calculate the apparent magnitude of a supernova or how far away it is,
  • identify the light curve of a type 1a supernova,
  • use data for a light curve to calculate the distance to a type 1a supernova.


Students should already be familiar with

  • brightness magnitude and using 𝑚𝑀=5𝑑10log,
  • what supernovae are.


Students will not cover

  • other types of supernova,
  • other methods for measuring distances to other galaxies.

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