Space dust is tough enough to survive supernova aftermath | Science News


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Space dust is tough enough to survive supernova aftermath

Star-seeding soot lingers long after explosion’s reverse shock waves, astronomers discover

2:00pm, March 19, 2015
supernova dust

STUBBORN DUST  A patch of dust (outlined in white) sits near the center of supernova remnant Sagittarius A East. The dust has survived both the explosion (reddish orange) and its reverse shock wave (blue).

Dust still lingers in the leftovers of a supernova that exploded thousands of years ago. Its existence demonstrates that the material can survive the reverse shock waves of stellar explosions, researchers report online March 19 in Science.

Ryan Lau of Cornell University and fellow astronomers found the lingering dust in Sagittarius A East, a remnant of a supernova 26,000 light-years away that exploded (from an Earth-based viewpoint) 10,000 years ago.

Past observations have shown that the initial explosive shock wave of a supernova can create dust (SN: 2/8/14, p. 7; SN Online 7/9/14). What has been unclear, however, is whether supernova dust can survive reverse shock waves, which occur roughly 1,000 years

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