By David E. Newton
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Additional info for Chemistry of Space (New Chemistry)
The type of reflection that occurs depends on two factors, the wavelength of light striking the particle and the particle’s size. For example, if the wavelength of the incident light is very much greater than the particle’s diameter, it will pass around the particle without interacting with it. The average size of most dust particles, however, is roughly the same as the wavelength of visible light (about 100 to 1,000 nanometers [nm]). Specifically, dust particles have diameters corresponding closely with the wavelength of blue light (about 475 nm) and somewhat less closely to the wavelength of red light (about 650 nm).
PAH clusters have been hypothesized for some time and evidence is accumulating that they occur abundantly in the ISM. No specific PAH molecule, however, has as yet been definitively identified in the interstellar medium. Whatever form they may take, dust particles are now thought to be remnants of stellar explosions, in which a star expels part or all of its mass into the ISM. Much of our knowledge of dust in the ISM is based on its effects on light. Suppose that light from a star passes through a region of the ISM that contains a certain amount of dust.
Cannon was apparently the perfect choice for that assignment. She is said to have been able to process star data at a prodigious speed. On average, she classified 5,000 stars a month between 1911 and 1915. At peak speed, she was able to study and classify up to three stars per minute. Overall, Cannon classified 225,300 stars, cataloging them in a nine-volume work entitled The Henry Draper Catalogue. Like most other women of the time, Cannon found that career advancement in the field of science did not come as easily as it did for her male counterparts.