A magnified grain of cosmic dust, set against the South Pole sky.
Cosmic Dust
Ninety-nine percent of the material in the Universe is hydrogen and helium. Some of that is locked up in stars but the vast portion floats in the spaces that lay between them. Because the distances between stellar bodies is huge, the density of this material is exceedingly thin but some of it is shepherded by gravity and exploding stars into enormous nebulous clouds, often stretching thousands of light-years, to eventually spawn new stars under the right conditions.
The remaining percentage of material in space is comprised of cosmic dust. This dust is exceptionally small- much smaller that our Earth-bound namesake that is typically fine bits of fabric, dirt, or dead skin cells. These tiny, irregularly shaped particles range from less than 1/100th of a micron to 10 microns in size- a micron is only one millionth of a meter. For comparison, a particle of smoke is about 1/10th of a micron large.  Cosmic dust is comprised of carbon compounds and additional materials that include silicon, oxygen, nitrogen, nickel and, most likely, other heavy elements. Because of its carbon content, this cosmic fluff has been compared to diamond dust- it stretches the imagination, but the universe is, in fact, filled with this stuff!  Cosmic dust originates from red giant stars and titanic supernova explosions , although there are other sources. It’s created when material from a dying star is expelled into surrounding space as grains of heavy elements that coalesce into a cloud of debris.
Credit: J. Freitag and S. Messenger/ R. Jay GaBany

A magnified grain of cosmic dust, set against the South Pole sky.

Cosmic Dust

Ninety-nine percent of the material in the Universe is hydrogen and helium. Some of that is locked up in stars but the vast portion floats in the spaces that lay between them. Because the distances between stellar bodies is huge, the density of this material is exceedingly thin but some of it is shepherded by gravity and exploding stars into enormous nebulous clouds, often stretching thousands of light-years, to eventually spawn new stars under the right conditions.

The remaining percentage of material in space is comprised of cosmic dust. This dust is exceptionally small- much smaller that our Earth-bound namesake that is typically fine bits of fabric, dirt, or dead skin cells. These tiny, irregularly shaped particles range from less than 1/100th of a micron to 10 microns in size- a micron is only one millionth of a meter. For comparison, a particle of smoke is about 1/10th of a micron large.

Cosmic dust is comprised of carbon compounds and additional materials that include silicon, oxygen, nitrogen, nickel and, most likely, other heavy elements. Because of its carbon content, this cosmic fluff has been compared to diamond dust- it stretches the imagination, but the universe is, in fact, filled with this stuff!

Cosmic dust originates from red giant stars and titanic supernova explosions , although there are other sources. It’s created when material from a dying star is expelled into surrounding space as grains of heavy elements that coalesce into a cloud of debris.

Credit: J. Freitag and S. Messenger/ R. Jay GaBany


Posted 1 year ago with 506 notes
Tagged:Astronomyastrophysicsastrobiologycosmic dustspacesciencecosmos

  1. thevoltairian reblogged this from riffsandfragments
  2. eleminator reblogged this from spaceplasma
  3. milkshake-n-honey reblogged this from itsfullofstars and added:
    A magnified grain of cosmic dust, set against the South Pole sky. Cosmic Dust Ninety-nine percent of the material in the...
  4. distinctlydistinguished reblogged this from v0tum
  5. whereareyouxx reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  6. oughtisms reblogged this from spaceplasma
  7. lovenmystarlight reblogged this from sarahtheprotagonist
  8. sarahtheprotagonist reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  9. clovesmokex reblogged this from spaceplasma
  10. markfineart reblogged this from jeand54
  11. even-if-itry reblogged this from purefectionist
  12. purefectionist reblogged this from numda
  13. redcodex reblogged this from spaceplasma
  14. octagonperfectionist reblogged this from spaceplasma
  15. themostb0ring reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  16. science-with-jubileus reblogged this from habrocomes
  17. habrocomes reblogged this from abstractnerd
  18. thescienceofficer reblogged this from spaceplasma
  19. atomicx reblogged this from abstractnerd
  20. abstractnerd reblogged this from spaceplasma
  21. traipsingtheergosphere reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  22. the-final-frontiersman reblogged this from spaceplasma
  23. thestarofmunster reblogged this from sorryidontspeakenglish
  24. chained-fiction reblogged this from sassy-horny
  25. sassy-horny reblogged this from numda
  26. hotdogcephalopod reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  27. notsandycheeks reblogged this from v0tum
  28. latverianknight reblogged this from spaceplasma
  29. thekeyboardninja reblogged this from spaceplasma
  30. catherinetrevino reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff