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Silica: An Alien Mineral

For those familiar with geology, it is known that silica is one of the most abundant minerals in our Earth, with 60% of the Earth's crust composed of it. From sandy beaches, quartz crystals, to glass art -- silica is found as the genetic makeup for an endless variety of every day things. So, how did it become so prevalent among our planet?

New studies done by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, after studying dying supernovas and space dust, have confirmed that silica is an extraterrestrial mineral that found its way to Earth billions of years ago during the death of exploding stars.

This was done by studying the light wavelength coming from the supernova remnant, Cassiopeia A. Under a microscope, scientists were able to discover grain-like silica molecules within this "space dust". During the explosion of supernovas such as Cassiopeia A , the volume of silica dust released was enough to saturate our planet and thus form a majority of the Earth that we know of today.

So next time you look at a quartz crystal, just remember that the ingredients that took to form it are billions of years old!

Cassiopeia A, supernova remnant

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