Key glass ingredient formed when massive stars explode

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/ESA/NRAO/J. Rho (SETI Institute).

We are all, quite literally, made of star dust.

Many of the chemicals that compose our planet and our bodies were formed directly by stars.

Now, a new study using observations by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope reports for the first time that silica — one of the most common minerals found on Earth — is formed when massive stars explode.

Look around you right now and there’s a good chance you will see silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2) in some form.

A major component of many types of rocks on Earth, silica is used in industrial sand-and-gravel mixtures to make concrete for sidewalks, roads and buildings.

One form of silica, quartz, is a major component of sand found on beaches along the U.S. coasts.

Silica is a key ingredient in glass, including plate glass for windows, as well as fiberglass. Most of the silicon used in electronic devices comes from silica.

Source: NASA.