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Chasing Down Cosmic Dust

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Davide Lazzati is now an associate professor in the department of physics at Oregon State University and conducts research in many theoretical astrophysics areas, such as gamma-ray bursts, molecular clusters, and cosmic dust.Cosmic Dust Image

The formation of tiny particles of pollutants in the atmosphere, raindrops in a cloud, and cosmic dust share common physics, closely related to a process called nucleation, the means by which molecules begin to form solids. The key unknown is the physics and behavior of nanoclusters that are far more complex than a single molecule, yet not big enough to be considered solids or liquids. There are major discrepancies between model predictions and observations on cosmic dust and the theories of dust nucleation and formation. New additions to the theory may improve its performance and its ability to predict the properties and formation of nanoparticles. Though focusing on the cosmic dust throughout the universe, this subject of dust nanoparticles is important to understand because they act at a more local level, ranging from everyday problems from rain and fog formation to the challenges of cosmology and climate change.

Dr. Lazzati goes into more depth about his research on cosmic dust with managing editor Fenella Saunders. Click the link above to listen to the podcast.

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