Wednesday 23 Nov 2022: From extraterrestrial dust to the evolution of planetary systems - the cosmic story of Gaea and Helios
Leen Decin - KU Leuven
Physics building, 4th floor 14:00-15:00
After decades of failures and misunderstandings, scientists have solved a cosmic riddle — what happens to the tons of dust particles that hit the Earth every day but seldom if ever get discovered in the places that humans know best, like buildings and parking lots, sidewalks and park benches. The answer? Nothing. Look harder. The tiny flecks are everywhere, all over the roof. The morphology of these flecks - micrometeorites - is a first hint of their extraterrestrial origin, the determination of their chemical makeup is the decisive making body.
But how is that cosmic dust formed? What important clues on stellar and planet evolution are hidden in these extraterrestrial flecks? What do these microscopic samples and astronomical observations tell us about the future evolution of our own Sun, and how life on Earth might change in a few billion years from now? Do (exo)planets survive the giant evolution of their host star, and what are the driving forces determining their fate? In this talk, I will address each of these questions, bridging the microscopic world to the future of our own Earth, thereby telling the cosmic story of Gaea and Helios.