Tag: dr andrew westphal

Scientists find interstellar dust

Boffins think they have found two particles of interstellar dust, according to the BBC.

The dust was found in material collected by the US space agency’s Stardust spacecraft and not down the back of the sofa as we first thought.

For ages boffins had wondered about the nature of such dust which flows through space and ends up as the building blocks that go into making stars and planets.

NASA sent up spacecraft was primarily sent to catch dust streaming from Comet Wild 2 and return it to Earth for analysis.

But scientists also wanted to catch particles of interstellar dust which apparently is different from the stuff that comets are made from.

The material was gathered by the Stardust probe in a seven-year, 4.8-billion-km interplanetary voyage.

Dr Andrew Westphal, University of California, Berkeley thinks he has managed to isolate two interstellar dust grains.

Well, actually the discovery was made by a member of the public, using the Stardust@Home internet application, which invited participants to search the aerogel collection medium for tiny particles of the dust.

Under the agreement made between the science team and participants in Stardust@Home, the finder Bruce Hudson was allowed to choose a name for the particle he called it Orion.

After preliminary analyses, the scientists found another grain upstream, which Bruce Hudson named Sirius.

The dust appears to be made up of magnesium, aluminium, iron, chromium, manganese, nickel, copper and gallium and some new stuff they have not worked out yet.