Abstract

Extraterrestrial samples include a rich variety of materials with different histories. Among the array of Solar System materials are tiny grains with extremely anomalous isotopic compositions—records of nucleosynthetic processes that occurred deep within their now extinct parent stars. The isotopic and mineralogical characterization of these presolar grains in the laboratory provides unprecedented insight into stellar and galactic evolution, nucleosynthesis, and dust formation and processing. The discovery of presolar grains has opened up a pivotal new dimension in the field of astrophysics. Coupled with astronomical observations and astrophysical studies, stardust analyses bring nanometer-scale detail to the history of our immense Galaxy.

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