Feb 18 - Mar 19, 2017
Opening Feb 17, 22h
The past century of interstellar dust has brought us from first ignoring it to finding that it plays an important role in the evolution of galaxies. Current observational results in our galaxy provide a complex physical and chemical evolutionary picture of interstellar dust starting with the formation of small refractory particles in stellar atmospheres to their modification in diffuse and molecular clouds and ultimately to their contribution to star forming regions. Observations of the properties of dust in very young galaxies will be an important probe of the rates of star formation in terms of the production and destruction of dust grains. Future observations of dust at high spectral and spatial resolution will provide detailed information on processes in collapsing clouds up to star formation. Space missions to comets in the next century will first study them in situ but ultimately will bring back pristine nucleus material which will contain the end product of the collapsing protosolar molecular cloud at the time of planet formation. If one of the current theories of the origin of life from comets is correct, laboratory studies of comet dust grains immersed in water may give direct indications of prebiotic chemical evolution.