I've just read the article at Chicago uni and it is a great example of modern writing, i.e. writing which you are supposed to read and accept but not think upon.
"We not only do not know what the stuff is, but we do not know where it is made or how it gets into space," said Donald York, the Horace B. Horton Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.
At this point they are fairly clueless.
But now York, the University of Toledo's Adolf Witt and their collaborators have observed a double-star system that displays all the characteristics that astronomers suspect are associated with dust production.
But they have one or two ideas. Note the term 'associated with'. Associated with is not synonymous with cause of.
One of the double stars is of a type that astronomers regard as a likely sourceof dust.
Still fairly uncertain here but they have another idea.
During this transition, which takes place over tens of thousands of years, these stars lose an outer layer of their atmosphere. Dust may form in this cooling layer, which radiation pressure coming from the star's interior pushes out the dust away from the star, along with a fair amount of gas.
Suddenly they know how long the process takes (Holy leap of faith, Batman!).
May. So much for the exact sciences.
'A fair amount' is a scientific term which is greater than a slack handful but smaller than a shed full.
Notice that the dust has appeared miraculously as no mechanism has been suggested other than it 'may' form in this layer. The dust is not formed from the gas.
In double-star systems, a disk of material from the post-AGB star may formaround the second smaller, more slowly evolving star. "When disks form in astronomy, they often formjets that blow part of the material out of the original system, distributing the material in space," York explained.
The word 'may' again.
'When disks form in astronomy' - as opposed to real life?
'They often form' - exact science again.
This seems to be the phenomenon that Witt's team observed in the Red Rectangle, probably the best example so far discovered. The discovery has wide-ranging implications, because dust is critical to scientific theories about how stars form.
Perhaps it could be that they may possibly be not quite as certain as they would have you believe.
Dust may well be critical to how stars form but they are talking about the formation of dust from already formed stars.
"If a cloud of gas and dust collapses under its own gravity, it immediately gets hotter and starts to evaporate," York said. Something, possibly dust, must immediately cool the cloud to prevent it from reheating.
Eh? Do gas and dust have their own gravity? How can something 'immediately' get hotter and start to evaporate and simultaneously 'immediately' cool? Personally I would have thought that dust was more likely to trap the heat.
The giant star sitting in the Red Rectangle is among those that are far too hot to allow dust condensation within their atmospheres. And yet a giant ring of dusty gas encircles it.
Once more the Universe proves that it knows nothing about science. N.B. Dusty gas is not to be confused with gassy dust.
Witt's team made approximately 15 hoursof observations on the double star over a seven-year period
Hardly 'round the clock surveillance' is it?
"Our observations have shown that it is most likelythe gravitational or tidal interaction between our Red Rectangle giant star and a close sun-like companion star that causes material to leave the envelope of the giant," said Witt, an emeritus distinguished university professor of astronomy.
Where did the 'gravitational or tidal interaction' thing come from, this is the first mention of it. Also, above it stated that jets form and blow the material into space. To me this is entirely different to it being pulled up by the other, smaller, star.
And surely he should be a distinguished emeritus yada, rather than an emeritus distinguished?
Some of this material ends up in a disk of accumulating dust that surrounds that smaller companion star. Gradually, over a period of approximately 500 years, the material spirals into the smaller star.
So according to the beginning of the article, it takes 'tens of thousands of years' to lose an outer layer of its atmosphere but it takes aproximately 500 years to get from the ring 'into' the smaller star.
The Universe may not know anything about science but it always seems to work in round figures.
Just before this happens, the smaller star ejects a small fraction of the accumulated matter in opposite directions via two gaseous jets, called "bipolar jets."
Eh? Does it spiral into the smaller star or not? How do these jets fit in with the gravitational or tidal interactions?
Other quantities of the matter pulled from the envelope of the giant end up in a disk that skirts both stars, where it cools.
So now we have gone from gas and dust, to dusty gas, to matter. We now have it cooling but still do not have the mechanism for the cooling.
The Universe is pulling matter from envelopes and the scientists are pulling theories from hats.
"The heavy elements like iron, nickel, silicon, calcium and carbon condense out into solid grains..."
As opposed to liquid or gasous grains (which they are probably saving for another theory).
Cosmic dust production has eluded telescopic detection because it only lasts for perhaps 10,000 years—a brief period in the lifetime of a star. Astronomers have observed other objects similar to the Red Rectangle in Earth's neighborhood of the Milky Way. This suggests that the process Witt's team has observed is quite common when viewed over the lifetime of the galaxy.
So which is it - tens of thousands of years or perhaps ten thousand years?
Viewed over the lifetime of the galaxy, as opposed to 15 hours over seven years.
"Processes very similar to what we are observing in the Red Rectangle nebula have happened maybe hundreds of millions of times since the formation of the Milky Way," said Witt,
That would be pure speculation then, would it?
Their observations, Witt said, "have been greatly more productive than we could have imagined in our wildest dreams."
The University of Chicago - where dreams come true.
Adolf Witt - know to his friends as (h)Alf Witt.