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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Voyager into Stardust

By Phil Plait

I love the intersection of science and art, since there is great beauty in science, and fundamental reality in art.

Filmmaker Mischa Rozema created a short animation called âStardustâ, using the Voyager 1 probeâcurrently edging its way into interstellar spaceâas a jumping-off point to visually explore the idea that we are star dust, and into star dust we will someday return. Itâs really quite lovely.

The shots of the Sun are amazing, and reminded me somewhat of the movie âSunshineâ, when the crew of a spaceship all take a few minutes to watch the silhouette of Mercury transit the Sunâs face (a very moving and key scene in the movie). The music is beautiful, too.

The mix of atoms in our world and in our bodies is a reflection of impurities in the cloud of gas and dust that collapsed 4.6 billion years ago to form the solar system. Those elements were in large part created in the hearts of mighty exploding stars, and eventually found their way into us. Whether the human race spreads to the stars, or we remain on Earth and the crust of our planet is blasted away into space when the Sun swells into a red giantâ¦either way, our supernovae-forged atoms will be cast back out into the galaxy that created them.

Some may not find comfort in that, but there is still a remarkable poetry in it.

Tip oâ the heliopause to Tim Farley.

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