News of the WeekAstronomy

New Type of Cosmic Dust Tells of Galaxy's Violent History

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Science  24 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5999, pp. 1590
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5999.1590

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The vast interstellar expanses of galaxies are filled with clouds of dust and gas in which new stars and planets form. The physical details of these cocoons have been hazy to astronomers. Now, researchers have found that the cores of many of these clouds are swarming with dust grains 10 times as large as those previously detected. These grains scatter starlight to produce a so-called coreshine effect, which the researchers say could be used to probe the age and history of interstellar clouds. The team describes the results on page 1622 of this week's issue of Science.