Circumstellar space: Where chemistry happens for the very first time

NASA/JPL-Caltech/E.Churchwell (U. of WisconsinThe nebula RCW49 is a nursery for newborn stars and exists in circumstellar space, where chemistry is done for the very first time.Picture a cool place, teeming with a multitude of hot bodies twirling about in rapidly changing formations of singles and couples, partners and groups, constantly dissolving and reforming. If you were thinking of the dance floor in a modern nightclub, think again. It’s a description of the shells around dying stars, the place where newly formed elements make compounds and life takes off, said Katharina Lodders, Ph.D., research associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

First silicate stardust found in a meteorite

In the March 5 issue of Science, Ann Nguyen of Washington University in St. Louis and her advisor, Ernst K. Zinner, Ph.D., research professor of physics and of earth and planetary sciences, both in Arts & Sciences, describe nine specks of silicate stardust — presolar silicate grains — from one of the most primitive meteorites known. This is the first reported finding of silicate stardust from a meteorite.

Researchers explore the ocean floor with rare instrument

Courtesy of Monterey Bay Area Research InstituteA fish on the ocean floor off California gazes at a sight no human has seen first-hand: a modified Raman spectrometer gathering data on a carbon dioxide sample.In collaboration with oceanographers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), a team of geologists at Washington University in St. Louis is using a rare instrument on the ocean floor just west of California. One of their earliest projects was to see if it’s possible to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it on the ocean floor. It’s the first deployment of the Raman spectrometer on the ocean floor.