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Space dust from ancient supernova hiding in Antarctica



Cosmic dust found in Antarctic snow was probably born in a distant supernova millions of years ago. The dust's interstellar journey eventually brought the material to Earth, where scientists discovered the ancient grains.

This pond stood out because it contains an iron isotope called iron-60, which is often released by supernovae but very rare on Earth. (Isotopes are versions of elements that differ in the number of neutrons in their atoms.)

In the search for difficult-to-capture space dust, researchers analyzed more than 1100 kg. (500 kg) of surface snow which they collected from an altar region in Antarctica near the German Kohnen Station. At that location, the snow would be mostly free of pollution from ground dust, the researchers reported in a new study.

The investigators then sent the still frozen snow to a laboratory in Munich, where it was melted and filtered to isolate dust particles that may contain traces of material from space. When researchers investigated the burnt dust using an accelerator mass spectrometer, they discovered the rare isotope Iron-60 ̵

1; a relic from an ancient supernova.


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