Stardust had captured tiny bits of rocky dust some 8 years back and these are the first fragments of interstellar matter that was ever brought back to the Earth, state the researchers at Berkeley’s University of California’s Space Sciences Laboratory.
Millions of years back, the cosmic particles from the exploding stars’ edges must have been hurled and the streaming of dusty remnants was seen through a vast distance of space toward Earth, before they were intercepted by Stardust.
They are the stuff that makes up the entire solar system, says Andrew Westphal, the physicist and the associate director of Berkeley lab, in an interview. They are the same particles of matter like the ones that make up the Earth, planets and sun and even us.
As of now, the detection and analysis of only 7 priceless specks of the matter has been done and now, years will be taken for analyzing the chemistry of the particles for proving the origin conclusively.
Westphal who leads an international team of 67 scientists and thousands of volunteers, was in search of evidence of space matter in cargo that was carried back by the Stardust to Earth some 8 years back.
On Friday, the results of the search and analysis are being published by the team members. These tiny fragments are considered to be fluffy and crystalline like snowflakes. Some are composed of Olivine, a magnesium iron silicate mineral. Others have sulfur compounds while some have semi-melted composites of other particles.
If these are confirmed as interstellar debris, they could help in explaining the origin as well as evolution of interstellar matter that would stream into the solar system. Stardust was launched in the year 1995 and 2 special detectors were carried for trapping tiny objects and for tracking the impacts.
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