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November 19 2012

Interstellar dust and the sun


The space between stars is not empty. It contains copious but diffuse amounts of gas and dust; in fact about 5-10% of the total mass of our Milky Way galaxy is in interstellar gas. About 1% of the mass of this interstellar material, quite a lot in astronomical terms, is in the form of tiny dust grains made predominantly of silicates (sand too is made of silicates), though some grains are also composed of carbon and other elements. Dust grains are important.

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