The space between
stars is not entirely empty. There are grains of dust present, produced
mostly by stars of earlier generations. The dust varies in composition
from grain to grain, but scientists expect that, averaged over large
regions, these differences mostly disappear. But what if our own solar
system formed from a cloud of dust grains that actually did have substantial
variations in composition? Scientists speculate that such differences
could indicate how the sun, the Earth, and the planets formed. Dr. Podosek
will explain how these microscopic specks of dust provide clues to the
formation of our solar system. He will also discuss the search for chemical
evidence of the composition of these primitive building blocks of the
planets and their satellites.
Frank Podosek is a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and a Fellow
of the McDonnell Center For the Space Sciences at Washington University.
He is the author of numerous scientific papers, as well as the textbook
Noble Gas Geochemistry. His research interests center on the
study of the formation and early evolution of the solar system, using
the detailed chemical composition of meteorites and interplanetary dust.