Seven microscopic motes of dust may be the first material ever collected from outside our solar system, according to a team of researchers from Berkeley and the National Naval Research Laboratory. And from these tiny particles, researchers hope to learn about the origins of interstellar dust.
“The particles captured are a sample of the contemporary galaxy as it constantly evolves through star formation, death, and the redistribution of material as dust,” planetary scientist Anna Butterworth tells Popular Mechanics.
The discovery is the fruit of eight years of combined effort by NASA researchers and 30,000 “citizen scientists,”—interested laypeople who spent hours searching digital images for traces of interstellar dust.
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