Using a specialized facility, called the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC) designed and built at Ames, scientists now are able to recreate and study in the laboratory dust grains similar to the grains that form in the outer layers of dying stars.
Dust grains that form around dying stars and are ejected into the interstellar medium lead, after a life cycle spanning millions of years, to the formation of planets and are a key component of the universe's evolution.
Scientists have found the materials that make up the building blocks of the universe are much more complicated than originally anticipated.
He said that using the COSmIC simulator they can now discover clues to questions about the composition and the evolution of the universe, both major objectives of
The team started with small hydrocarbon molecules that it expanded in the cold jet spray in COSmIC and exposed to high energy in an electric discharge. They detected and characterized the large molecules that are formed in the gas phase from these precursor molecules with highly sensitive detectors, then collected the individual solid grains formed from these complex molecules and imaged them using Ames' Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).
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