An international team of sky scholars, including a key researcher from Johns Hopkins, has produced new maps of the material located between the stars in the Milky Way. The results should move astronomers closer to cracking a stardust puzzle that has vexed them for nearly a century. The maps and an accompanying journal article appear in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Science. The researchers say their work demonstrates a new way of uncovering the location and eventually the composition of the interstellar medium -- the material found in the vast expanse between star systems within a galaxy.
This material includes dust and gas composed of atoms and molecules that are left behind when a star dies. The material also supplies the building blocks for new stars and planets.