Astronomers have analyzed the cosmic dust from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and discovered that it represents the remains of an ancient supernova. This discovery could help understanding why there is so much dust in the Galaxy what is its purpose.
NASA managed to find out this valuable information with the help of SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). The Forcast (Faint Object Infrared Camera Telescope) was also used. The telescope was carried into space by a Boeing 747. It seems that the resilient material coming from the supernova can form planets such as Earth. The finding was published in the Science journal. Ryan Lau (Cornell University, Ithaca) said that the dust cloud produced 10.000 years ago by a supernova explosion resulted in so much dust that it was enough to make 7.000 planets like Earth. The dusty remnant, found near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, is named Sagittarius A.
The lead author of the research, Ryan Lau, stated that since dust can form planets it is very important to know its origins. He also explained that their work supports the theory according to which supernovas produce the dust present in galaxies of the early universe.
The Milky Way is not the only galaxy in which the dust was observed. Dust was found in galaxies from billions of years ago, before Earth ever existed. Besides the fact that supernovas are the sources of cosmic dust, another theory states that dust was formed by the elevation of heavy elements from the nucleus of the stars before exploding in a supernova.
No other phenomenon except for the supernova is known to produce such a big amount of dust. Lau expresses his surprise regarding this matter saying that to him supernovas seem to be an inhospitable and harsh environment to dust and everything else which is part of the explosion. It is surprising how the dust survives.
The dust in the galaxy has always prevented astronomers from optically observing the depths of the Milky Way. Stellar clouds did not allow them to observe many other stellar bodies. But Lau belies that this new discovery will enable them to shed light upon the mysteries which past astronomers were not able to disentangle. Of course, new observations and research need to be conducted, but thanks to this new study things will be easier from now on.
Image Source: European Astronomical Society
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