Evidence for interstellar origin of seven dust particles collected by the Stardust spacecraft

Westphal, A. J.; Stroud, R. M.; Bechtel, H. A.; Brenker, F. E.; Butterworth, A. L.; Flynn, G. J.; Frank, D. R.; Gainsforth, Z.; Hillier, J. K.; Postberg, F.; Simionovici, A. S.; Sterken, V. J.; Nittler, L. R.; Allen, C.; Anderson, D.; Ansari, A.; Bajt, S.; Bastien, R. K.; Bassim, N.; Bridges, J.; Brownlee, D. E.; Burchell, M.; Burghammer, M.; Changela, H.; Cloetens, P.; Davis, A. M.; Doll, R.; Floss, C.; Grun, E.; Heck, P. R.; Hoppe, P.; Hudson, B.; Huth, J.; Kearsley, A.; King, A. J.; Lai, B.; Leitner, J.; Lemelle, L.; Leonard, A.; Leroux, H.; Lettieri, R.; Marchant, W.; Ogliore, R.; Ong, W. J.; Price, M. C.; Sandford, S. A.; Tresseras, J.-A. S.; Schmitz, S.; Schoonjans, T.; Schreiber, K.; Silversmit, G.; Sole, V. A.; Srama, R.; Stadermann, F.; Stephan, T.; Stodolna, J.; Sutton, S.; Trieloff, M.; Tsou, P.; Tyliszczak, T.; Vekemans, B.; Vincze, L.; Von Korff, J.; Wordsworth, N.; Zevin, D. and Zolensky, M. E. (2014). Evidence for interstellar origin of seven dust particles collected by the Stardust spacecraft. Science, 345(6198) pp. 786–791.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1252496


Seven particles captured by the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector and returned to Earth for laboratory analysis have features consistent with an origin in the contemporary interstellar dust stream. More than 50 spacecraft debris particles were also identified. The interstellar dust candidates are readily distinguished from debris impacts on the basis of elemental composition and/or impact trajectory. The seven candidate interstellar particles are diverse in elemental composition, crystal structure, and size. The presence of crystalline grains and multiple iron-bearing phases, including sulfide, in some particles indicates that individual interstellar particles diverge from any one representative model of interstellar dust inferred from astronomical observations and theory.

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