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Dust Formation in a Galaxy with Primitive Abundances

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Science  16 Jan 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5912, pp. 353-355
DOI: 10.1126/science.1165626

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Abstract

Interstellar dust plays a crucial role in the evolution of galaxies. It governs the chemistry and physics of the interstellar medium. In the local universe, dust forms primarily in the ejecta from stars, but its composition and origin in galaxies at very early times remain controversial. We report observational evidence of dust forming around a carbon star in a nearby galaxy with a low abundance of heavy elements, 25 times lower than the solar abundance. The production of dust by a carbon star in a galaxy with such primitive abundances raises the possibility that carbon stars contributed carbonaceous dust in the early universe.

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