December 4, 2013

Studying Stardust

Out There: Episode #2

Christine Floss, research professor in the physics department at Washington University in St. Louis, spends her time investigating microscopic specks of dust that have remained unchanged since before the formation of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago. These presolar grains help researchers like Floss answer questions about the formation of elements, the solar system, and the universe as a whole. Floss describes how she and her students search for presolar grains in ancient meteorites, why tiny grains of silica are particularly fascinating, and how as an undergraduate geology major she first became hooked on outer space.

To learn more about two recently discovered presolar grains that may have been formed in the same supernova, see this article from the Washington University Newsroom.

image via Christine Floss. audio free music archive: chris zabriskie.