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A synthesis of our present knowledge of interstellar dust

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  • Paul S. Wesson
  • St. John's College, Cambridge
  • Dept. Applied Maths. and Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University, UK

The present state of knowledge as regards interstellar dust is reviewed in Section 1 (Introduction); Section 2 (Composition of Dust Grains: graphite, silicate, dirty-ice, diamond); Section 3 (Size of Grains: mainly r ? 10?6 cm); Section 4 (Charge and Temperature of Grains: charge varies from 1–10 electrons (H i clouds) to 500 electrons (H ii clouds); temperature of grain material is about 10–20 K); Section 5 (Distribution and Origin of Grains: confined mainly to discs and arms of spiral galaxies, having had a passive origin by efflux from late-type stars or carbon-stars); Section 6 (Cosmogonical and Cosmological Aspects of Interstellar Grains: accretion by electrical-image forces of one dust grain onto a similarly-charged grain links up the absence of dust and gas in elliptical galaxies with the absence of a magnetic field of the type found in spirals. The origin of the 3 K background radiation field could be produced by a population of rotating silicate grains of r ? 10?7 cm); Section 7 (Conclusion).

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Space Science Reviews

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  • 1 - natural sciences ; 2 - physics & astronomy ; 3 - astronomy & astrophysics
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