Antarctic Find: Space Dust From Old Supernova Found By Scientists

For various reasons, the majority of Antarctica remains a mystery to us. Effectively the world’s coldest region, its location makes it very hard to study, even more so for actual scientists to stay there for a few months at a time to learn more about it.

With that being said however, each new discovery made in the region just proves how fascinating the world really is as well as what we know about it may not always be the truth. For example, a team of scientists were able to discover a large number of hidden lakes underneath its thick ice earlier this year. There was also a group that managed to find some water in it, which had a composition suggesting it had already existed when Jesus Christ walked the Earth.

And more recently, it’s revealed that Antarctic snow may have bits and pieces of cosmic dust, which more than likely came from a supernova that happened around a million years ago. Per the scientists, the dusts must have travelled from the distant supernova to Earth, where it eventually ended up in the snowy tundra.

According to the researchers, the dust contains the isotope (which is a version of an element that differ in the numbers of neutrons in their atoms) iron-60. This type of isotope is rarely found here in our planet and is commonly released by supernovas.

Cosmic Dust

To look for what’s technically space dust, scientists decided to analyze more or less 1,100 lbs. of snow, gathered near the German Kohnen station in Antarctica. The snow was taken from a high-altitude area to make sure that they’re free from any terrestrial dust. The snow samples were then sent to a Munich-located lab, where it was filtered to isolate the particles that came from here and ones that came from outer space. They were then able to detect amounts of isotope iron-60 after using an accelerator mass spectrometer.

Previous samples of isotopes were found in ancient deep-sea deposits as well as rocks from outer space. This find however, counts as the first ever isotope iron-60 discovery in the Antarctica.

antarctica-3883212_960_720 A station in the Antarctica. Photos by Pixabay (CC0)