Dust is one of the most elusive components of galaxies, initially discovered only indirectly through its extinction effects on light sources. It is one of the least understood components of the interstellar medium, with outstanding open questions such as:
- How do seed dust particle appear and grow in the initially gaseous material ejected by giant stars and supernovae?
- What are the sites of dust formation?
- What are the prominent dust species in the Universe?
- How do dust particle aggregate to form planetary bodies?
Dust is, however, one of the big player in the Universe. Dust particles are responsible for the reddening and absorption of light in galaxies; dust particles are the building blocks of rocky planets, such as the Erath; dust particles are the chemistry labs of the Universe, providing safe haven for chemical reactions on their rugged surfaces.
Prof. Lazzati's group dust research focuses on the mechanisms of dust nucleation. Dust nucleation is the process of forming the seeds of dust particles (usually micro-grains with only several tens of atoms in them) from a purely gaseous compounds. The group utilizes a revolutionary approach within the kinetic theory of dust nucleation, focusing on the role of thermal instabilities on the growth of seed grains.