An international team of scientists has discovered interstellar dust particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, and have concluded that they are older than the Earth as well as the Solar System. The international team was led by Hope Ishii, who also is the director of advanced electron microscopy center at the University of Hawaii.
Further Insights into the Discovery
The interstellar dust has been discovered to exist in the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. The chemical composition has led scientists to speculate the mammoth distances travelled by the dust. Preliminary conclusions state that the dust grains are much older than our own solar system, which has existed for more than 4.6 billion years ago.
As per Ishii, the interstellar dust discovered represents surviving pre-solar matter that could have been the basic building blocks of planets and starts. The starting materials of planet formation from 4.6 billion years or more are finally accessible to humans. Studying this dust can make it possible to gain extensive information about the early stages of our Universe and the Solar System.
Various studies have shown us how carbon and ice from the times existing before the solar system has either been destroyed or been become a part of planets. However, traces of these substances still exists in comets and other celestial bodies, in the form of interstellar dust. The space dust was collected by a NASA stratospheric aircraft, and was analyzed using infrared light and electron microscopes. A prime find involved the presence of glass with embedded metal and sulfides, which are also called GEMs, in the particles.
According to Jim Ciston, one of the researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the specific types of organic carbon in both inner and outer regions of the particles suggests that the formation process mainly occurred at low temperatures.