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Silicate crystals forming in space


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Silicate crystal formation in space. Animation showing how silicate crystals are created by a growing star. A young sun-like star is surrounded by a planet-forming disk of gas and non-crystallized silicate dust. Material spirals onto the star increasing its mass, and causing it to heat up and increase temperatures in the surrounding disk. The amorphous silicate particles in the disk melt and then cool, and form forsterite (green), a type of silicate crystal often found in comets in our solar system. In April 2008, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope found evidence of this process taking place in the disk of a young sun-like star called EX Lupi.

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