Another day, another reason why the universe is terrifying. There's brand new evidence supporting a previously debunked theory that huge, fast storms of dust can inflict a fatal blow on already dying stars.
These theorical particles of dust originate in the stars themselves, and migrate to the surface, where they are blown off and cross space at one hundred times the power of the solar wind. This is not a minor sand storm. Half of the star's mass is gone by the end of it. Or that was the theory. Astronomers pooh-poohed it as only astronomers could, saying the tiny particles would get melted by the heat of the star and reintegrate.
However, in a paper in Nature, astronomers led by Barnaby Norris from the University of Sydney in Australia found an interesting twist. The dust particles are a little bigger than expected. Not only does this mean that they don't get disintegrated, it means that they reflect the starlight back into the star, staying cool, cooking the star farther, and then being sent out in deadly clouds across the cosmos that wipe out everything in their path. Forget asteroids — let's see Han Solo trying to evade a massive, star-killing dust storm.
Top Image: Star Forming in Nebula
A close halo of large grains around red giant stars: a new piece in the mass-loss puzzle