There’s a lot more dust in the universe as compared to what the calculations indicate.
This central problem for astronomy called the “dust budget crisis,” has got to be solved to understand dust’s crucial role in sheltering stars, birthing planets, and hosting molecules key to life.
Researchers intend to finally sort out the dust problem through the James Webb Space Telescope, which began months of commissioning on July 12th alongside releasing its first operational pictures. Once Webb is prepared, the lineup of early-stage studies will be dust-producing Wolf-Rayet binary stars to give a better perspective of the origin story of dust.
Webb will be better placed than many other observatories to catch sight of this tricky compound. With the help of infrared light, it can stare through clouds of dust, and due to its deep-space orbit, it is far from intervening light sources that can mess up any calculations regarding dust abundance.
The choice of Webb’s target is also the answer to moving along the dusty mystery. Wolf-Rayet stars, which are exceptionally hot and bright, may act as enormous dust producers after interacting with companion stars in binary systems.
Astronomers generally detect these stellar interactions through pinwheel patterns, developed as the two stars circle each other and the winds blowing off the surfaces of these stars collide in space. Yet, as Wolf-Rayet stars are so bright, their luminosity surpasses the fainter emissions of nearby dust.
However, Webb’s specialized optics is going to provide remarkable views in infrared. Also, Webb has a higher resolution than NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope, which is also observed from space in infrared.