Cosmic Factories Produce Rubies and Sapphires

Gemstones and dustLike enormous jewel factories in the sky, the chaotic environments around some supermassive black holes crank out prodigious amounts of glass, rubies and sapphires, a new study finds.

The inevitable breakdown of these materials into simpler components could account for much of the space dust in the universe—dust that is recycled to make stars, planets, and life.

Traces of these minerals, as well as sand and marble, were recently found by scientists analyzing light from the region around a nearby supermassive black hole using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The black hole was embedded in a quasar, a highly active and incredibly bright galaxy under construction.

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