From Universe Today: “Where Did Early Cosmic Dust Come From? New Research Says Supernovae”

by Nancy Atkinson on July 7, 2011

“New observations from the infrared Herschel Space Observatory reveal that an exploding star expelled the equivalent of between 160,000 and 230,000 Earth masses of fresh dust. This enormous quantity suggests that exploding stars, called supernovae, are the answer to the long-standing puzzle of what supplied our early universe with dust.

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This layout compares two pictures of a supernova remnant called SN 1987A — the left image was taken by the Herschel Space Observatory, and the right is an enlarged view of the circled region at left, taken with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: ESA/NASA-JPL/UCL/STScI

‘ This discovery illustrates the power of tackling a problem in astronomy with different wavelengths of light, said Paul Goldsmith, the NASA Herschel project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who is not a part of the current study. ‘ Herschel’s eye for longer-wavelength infrared light has given us new tools for addressing a profound cosmic mystery.’ ”

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This plot shows energy emitted from a supernova remnant called SN 1987A. Previously, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope detected warm dust around the object. Image credit: ESA/NASA-JPL/UCL/STScI

There is much more to this story. See the full article here.

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