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Proceedings of Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Dust Formation in the Space Medium




The thermal conditions leading to the rapid nucleation and growth of dust in astronomical explosions are examined. The contribution herein to nucleation physics lies only in the clarification of the ambient conditions where it apparently occurs. In both nova and interior shells of supernovae, dust precipitates in gas densities of order of 10−14 g cm−3 a few months after the explosion. The ambient conditions differ widely, however. Supernova condensation occurs in a thermal equilibrium, with photons, ions, electrons and grains having equal temperatures. In novae huge disequilibria exist, with photon and electron temperatures near 5×104 K, photon energy density near 750 K, and forming refractory grains near 1800 K. In neither type of explosion can the condensed matter easily maintain chemical equilibrium with the total system. Interesting isotopic anomalies are trapped in both types of refractory condensate in the interstellar medium. The nova provides the best astronomical laboratory for observing the condensation.


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