Space Is Full Of Cosmic Dust

Think dust around your house is annoying? Imagine what a problem it must be around the planet. Cosmic dust, which dates back as far as the formation of the solar system, is present around young stars and it's the material used to help them form. This dust is also the raw material from which planets like Earth are formed. Examples of cosmic dust can be observed all around us, but also up in the sky in the form of comet tails.

Astrophysicist Karel Schrijver, co-author of Living With the Stars: How the Human Body Is Connected to the Life Cycles of the Planets, and the Star, talked to National Geographic about how this dust affects humans. "There's still an awful lot of dust floating around," she says. "...That dust falls onto the Earth all the time and has from the very beginning. It's why the planet was made in the first place. Nowadays, you don't even notice it. But eventually all that stuff, which contains oxygen and carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements, finds its way into our bodies."

Space is one of three sources of dust on Earth. The other two main sources are your home (dead skin cells, pollen, dust mites, and more), and dry, arid places like deserts. In fact, the dust from the Sahara Desert can blow all the way over to the Caribbean.

Where Does Dust Come From?

Space, but other places too.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Dust in homes consists of pollen, hair, cloth fibers, and dead human skin cells. 00:18

  2. One-third of the land on Earth is covered by dust-producing surfaces. 03:07

  3. Gas and dust are precursors to planetary systems. 04:31

Tracking Dust From Around The World

How scientists are studying the African dust storms that are reaching as far as the United States.

How Climate Change Is Affecting Dust Storms

And what happened on the morning when Australians in Sydney woke up to a red sky?

Written by Curiosity Staff November 6, 2015

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