Week in Photos: Oldest Painting, First Space Dust, More

Week in Photos: Oldest Painting, First Space Dust, More
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October 9, 2007—For scientists searching for the origins of cosmic dust in the early universe, the answer really was blowing in the wind, according to a new study.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope recently spotted freshly made dust in the winds of a quasar—halos of highly active matter believed to surround the supermassive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies. The finding offers an explanation for the origins of the dust needed to form the universe's first stars.

"Quasars are like the Cookie Monster" on Seasame Street, said Sarah Gallagher, a study co-author at the University of California, Los Angeles. "They are messy eaters, and they can consume less matter than they spit out in the form of winds."

Astronomers know the dust is newly formed because it contains minerals—such as those found in sand, marble, and some gemstones—that don't survive long free-floating in space.

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—Image by NASA/AP
 
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