Supernova Reveals Origins of Cosmic Dust

July 10, 2014 5:37 AM

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Cosmic dust is crucial to the birth of stars and rocky planets, and provides the elemental ingredients for life. But its origin is obscure. Many astrophysicists think that dust is forged during the explosive supernova deaths of massive, short-lived stars, yet some observations of supernovas near our galaxy indicate that they produce too little material to account for the copious amounts of dust present in the young Universe.

Rising from a sea of dust and gas like a giant sea horse, the Horsehead Nebula, located in the constellation of Orion, is a cold, dark cloud of gas and dust. The bright area at the top left-hand edge is a young star still embedded in its nursery of gas and dust. Radiation from this hot star is erodi...

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