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Interstellar Gas and Dust

The gas between stars is mostly hydrogen and helium scattered at varying densities between the stars in our galaxy and other galaxies. The proportions of the gases are similar to those in the Sun. Interstellar gas supplies the raw material for star formation. Carbon monoxide and hydroxyl molecules (CO and OH) have also been detected within interstellar gas, along with highly ionized oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and silicon, which are likely remnants of past supernovae. The dust is made up of tiny grains of carbon, iron, and iron-magnesium silicates scattered at varying densities between the stars in our galaxy and other galaxies.

Featured Images

bright orange ring around the star fomalhaut

Dusty Star October 8, 2021

microscopic dust grain, taking core samples

Tiny Visitors September 27, 2021

artist's view of voyager spacecraft in interstellar space

Still Going August 23, 2021

artist's concept of ID2299, a galaxy that is losing much of its gas

Losing Gas January 12, 2021

Milky Way Dark Rift

Dark Rift August 6, 2018

The Crescent Nebula

Colorful Demise December 14, 2017

A ring of rubble encircles the star Fomalhaut

Rubble Ring May 19, 2017

Infrared image of Alpha Camelopardalis

Plowing Through the Galaxy January 25, 2017

Infrared image of a bow shock in front of a fast star

Shocking Star January 7, 2016

The system V664 Cassiopeia is creating a planetary nebula

Bread Crumbs July 23, 2015

Infrared view of the interstellar medium

Filling the Void April 9, 2015

Hubble Space Telescope view of V838 Monocerotis in 2006

Brilliant Echo February 11, 2015

Radio Programs

Vacuum The not-so-empty vacuum of space September 7, 2021

Ether Filling the empty universe September 6, 2021

Explosive Change The possible influence of exploding stars April 9, 2021

Interstellar Probe A trip to interstellar space September 29, 2020

Emptiness The emptiness between the stars December 8, 2019

Big Balloons Big balloons for the Antarctic December 1, 2019

Dark Clouds Clouds darken the Milky Way August 6, 2018

Early Light Looking for “fog” in the early universe December 15, 2017

Emptiness The emptiness between the stars July 23, 2017

M82 A gas crisis for a vigorous galaxy March 26, 2017

Supernova 1987A III Keeping an eye on a dead star February 24, 2017

Shocking Star A star rams its way through the galaxy January 25, 2017

Smith’s Cloud A big cloud falls toward the Milky Way August 14, 2016

Tau Ceti Visiting a dusty star system — after this. January 4, 2016