The concept of stardust is a magical one, even if its actual definition is more mundane. Stardust consists of grains of space dust, usually found within meteorites, that are older than our solar system. This substance formed when gases from ancient stars cooled down and then condensed into dust. Perhaps more importantly, though, is that scientists have discovered water within stardust, suggesting that life could exist throughout the Universe.
Astronomers have attempted to create fake stardust in a laboratory before, but now, a team of scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California are studying the real thing. The dust was collected from the Earth’s stratosphere and examined under a microscope. By doing so, the scientific team discovered water trapped within each tiny speck of dust. They theorized that this water forms because the original dust contained oxygen, and after exposure to the solar wind, it comes into contact with hydrogen. The two elements combine to create water. The implications of this discovery means that water, one of the essential requirements for life to form on a celestial body, is much more common in space than we thought.
But that’s not all. Stardust also contains organic carbon, another element considered important for life. Considering that stardust rains down on planets throughout the Universe, this means that basics for life (as we know it) exists throughout the cosmos.
Via New Scientist