04 December 2015

4 December: Cosmic dust helps form new stars

cosmic dust

Our Christmas researcher of the day is Anja C. Andersen who investigates how cosmic dust is created and thereby how the Earth was originally formed.

Cosmic dust is the foundation stone of our Universe, and if you understand how the dust is formed and how it accumulates in different periods of the Universe’s history, this will give you an insight into the origin of life.

"The exciting thing about cosmic dust is that it functions as a building block for the formation of new stars, such as the sun, as well as planets, such as the Earth. Moreover, it works as a catalyst for the formation of simple amino acids and complex molecules such as alcohol and sugar, which are present in the space between the stars", says Anja C. Andersen who is a professor at the Niels Bohr Institute.

Basic research gives us valuable knowledge

Her interest in the Universe already began back in primary school, and today, Anja C. Andersen finds that nothing can rival research.

 "Research is about discovering, investigating and understanding the world."

And that is exactly what Anja C. Andersen is doing with her research. Research in cosmic dust constitutes basic research and, as such, it does not give us a specific return. On the other hand, it can result in knowledge which researchers can work on and develop new theories from.

"My research helps give us insight into our position in the Universe. It provides us with an understanding of how the Earth was formed and how the different elements which are created in the very core of the stars are brought to the surface and become available for plant components and, thereby, lay the foundation for the origin of life", Anja C. Andersen explains.