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CHEM 260 Orion Nebula

Edwin Bergin, a professor in University of Michigan’s Astronomy department, has been investigating the chemical composition of a star-forming region of Orion (Orion-KL). Data has been collected aboard the Herschel space observatory using the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI), which detects the frequencies of photons that have passed through the region of interest and allows identification of that region’s chemical composition by determining which energies are missing due to absorption. Edwin has been asked to include a synopsis of his research for the December UM research report. Edwin, remembering you from a talk he gave at which you asked some really good questions, wants you to write this synopsis, arguing that you are better equipped to write a report that will reach the broader UM audience. This synopsis needs to provide background information on the quantum mechanical nature of atoms and molecules and how atoms and molecules absorb light. Be sure to include a discussion of what the light interactions indicate about subatomic structure and how they leave chemical signatures that can be used to determine the components of this nebula region.

Items to keep in mind

  • Your goal with this synopsis is to explain how the Bergin research group is able to get these results through spectroscopy
  • The broader University of Michigan community with varied scientific backgrounds will be reading your synopsis
  • External references are not required, but if they are used they should be cited using MLA format
  • Since you are writing an article that will be emailed out to the entire UM community, you should take care to carefully edit and proofread your synopsis
  • Your article should be between 350-500 words

Peer Review Guidelines

  • Print and read over your peer’s brief to quickly get an overview of the piece.
  • Read the brief more slowly keeping the rubric in mind.
  • Highlight the pieces of texts that let you directly address the rubric prompts in your online responses.
  • In your online responses, focus on larger issues (higher order concerns) of content and argument rather than lower order concerns like grammar and spelling.
  • Be very specific in your responses, referring to your peer’s actual language, mentioning terms and concepts that are either present or missing, and following the directions in the rubric.
  • Use respectful language whether you are suggesting improvements to or praising your peer.

Rubric Prompts

  • This synopsis should include a description of the quantum mechanical nature of atoms and molecules at a level that the broader U of M community can understand. What is described well? What parts are difficult to understand?
  • There should be a discussion about the properties of electromagnetic radiation. Which properties are described clearly? What is missing or unclear?
  • There should be a discussion of how light interactions allow elucidation of subatomic structure. In the explanations of how rotational, vibrational, and electronic energy transitions are different, what is clear? What needs to be covered in more detail?
  • There should be an explanation about how the spectral signatures can be used to determine the chemical components of this nebula region. How can it be improved?