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Dust in the Far Distant Universe

The first normal matter (i.e., baryonic matter) in the Universe was atomic hydrogen, some helium, and a trace of lithium. Without “heavy” elements, dust could not have formed in the earliest stages. The first stars, the so-called Population III stars, formed without the benefit of dust; they were massive and ended their lives as supernovae that populated the surrounding medium with heavy elements and with dust. The growth in the dust fraction in the Universe was rapid at this epoch. There is little observational data to constrain the nature of the dust in the Early Universe, but it is at least consistent with the dust having similar physical and chemical properties to the dust in the local Universe. If so, then the roles of dust, and particularly the contribution of dust to chemistry at high redshifts, must have been similar to that in the local Universe.

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18 Nov 2015
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