That pesky dust is actually useful

This image from a supercomputer simulation shows galaxy formation occurring early in the history of the Universe. Yellow dots are young stars, blue fog shows the neutral gas, and red indicates molecular gas.
Date:1 January 2011 Tags:, ,

Astronomers find cosmic dust annoying when it blocks their view of the heavens, but without it, the Universe would be devoid of stars. Cosmic dust is the indispensable ingredient for making stars and for understanding how primordial diffuse gas clouds assemble themselves into full-blown galaxies.

“Formation of galaxies is one of the biggest remaining questions in astrophysics,” said Andrey Kravtsov, associate professor in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Now, astrophysicists are moving closer to answering that question, thanks to a combination of new observations and supercomputer simulations, including those conducted by Kravtsov and Nick Gnedin, a physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.