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Scientists have discovered a new population of stardust that originated from supernovas. The finding suggests that more interstellar dust formed from these massive star explosions than scientists previously thought.
The quest to study cosmic dust samples brought to Earth by meteorites has been ongoing for the past 30 years. But this study marks the first time that scientists were able to distinguish components of the dust that were created by supernova explosions.
Imaging - Spectrometer - Cameca - NanoSIMS - Researchers
Using a nanoscale imaging spectrometer called Cameca NanoSIMS 50L, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany were able to measure the chemical composition of tiny grains of stardust by observing them with unprecedented resolution. The researchers analyzed the chemical makeup of several grains of stardust, drawing conclusions about the cosmic origins of those grains.
The team began its research with the aim of testing models for nucleosynthesis, or how new atoms are formed by red giant stars; these are dying stars in their last stages of stellar evolution.
Grains - Origin - Jan - Leitner - Researcher
"We did not expect to find that some of the grains are actually of supernova origin," Jan Leitner, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and lead author of the new study, told Space.com.
The dust that formed our solar system 4.6 billion years ago contains a small but important fraction (about 1%) more supernova dust than anticipated, he added.
Scientists - Forth - Supernova - Origins - System
Scientists have gone back and forth over whether a supernova could have contributed to the origins of our solar system.
"We don't understand how much dust comes from the stars, how much comes from supernovas [or] how much forms near the interstellar medium," Geoffrey Clayton, professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University who was not involved in the new study, told Space.com. "That's a very hot topic."
Study - Clayton
This recent study, Clayton added, shows how you...
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