|The supernova SN 2010jl (large white spot near top) produced dust much larger than usually found in the Milky Way. X-ray: NASA/CXC/RCA CA/P.Chandra et al); Optical: NASA/STScI|
Using a spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal in Chile, the team measured the amount of visible light absorbed by the dust particles and the infrared radiation that the particles themselves emitted.
To their surprise, the astronomers found that the dust particles were enormous by Milky Way standards, measuring 1 to 4.2 micrometers across — at least four times the typical width of dust particles found between star systems in our home Galaxy. It is harder to form large dust particles, notes Gall, but their size makes them resistant to destruction by shocks associated with the supernova slamming into interstellar material, and probably accounts for their longevity. Large interstellar dust grains have previously been found in our Solar System.