Have you read His Dark Materials or seen its movie adaptation The Golden Compass? In the imaginary world created by the author Philip Pullman, dust was the most important thing – the material which connected it to ours. 

It turns out that even in real life, dust is important to worlds outside of Earth! Especially if we are trying to find out if they are habitable. We learned that dust can cool the hot surface and warm the climate of a planet, making it more suitable for life. On the other hand, larger amounts of dust can make it hard to look for such planets. And actually, if a planet does host life, dust might hide the signs of it!

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About this article

Summary of research
Astronomers looking for habitable planets outside the Solar System discovered that dust might play an important role.
Reading level
Scientific field
Key words
Scientific methods
Type of figure
AP Environmental science topics
IB Biology topics
Location of research
Scientist Affiliation
Publication date
July 2020

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