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What Exists In The Dark Space Between Solar Systems?

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Channel: Seeker
Categories: Astronomy   |   Physics   |   Science  
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Many people think that space is a vacuum, but that’s actually a misconception. What exactly exists between solar systems?
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The Interstellar Medium
“Simply put, the interstellar medium is the material which fills the space between the stars. Many people imagine outer space to be a complete vacuum, devoid of any material. Although the interstellar regions are more devoid of matter than any vacuum artificially created on earth, there is matter in space. These regions have very low densities and consist mainly of gas (99%) and dust. In total, approximately 15% of the visible matter in the Milky Way is composed of interstellar gas and dust.”

Tiny Dust Particles in the Solar System
“In our solar system, dust particles are abundant, created by asteroid collisions and
by the evaporation of comets. These particles are the source of the zodiacal light, a diffuse glow in the night sky that extends along the ecliptic (the plane of the solar system) and which is seen from Earth stretching along the zodiac, most easily after sunset or before sunrise. It is so faint that moonlight is enough to mask it.”

What Lives Between the Stars
“Sure, it’s much emptier than anything here on Earth. But nearly one-sixth of our galaxy’s mass lives here. The interstellar medium, or ISM, contains the ingredients for making planets, asteroids, and stars. Though tenuous – there is only about one atom in every cubic centimeter – there is enough material here to build entire galaxies.”

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