The origin of dust in galaxies revisited: The mechanism determining dust content

Akio K. Inoue*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


The origin of cosmic dust is a fundamental issue in planetary science. This paper revisits the origin of dust in galaxies, in particular, in the Milky Way, by using a chemical evolution model of a galaxy composed of stars, interstellar medium, metals (elements heavier than helium), and dust. We start from a review of timeevolutionary equations of the four components, and then, we present simple recipes for the stellar remnant mass and yields of metal and dust based on models of stellar nucleosynthesis and dust formation. After calibrating some model parameters with the data from the solar neighborhood, we have confirmed a shortage of the stellardust-production rate relative to the dust-destruction rate by supernovae if the destruction efficiency suggested by theoretical works is correct. If the dust-mass growth by material accretion in molecular clouds is active, the observed dust amount in the solar neighborhood is reproduced. We present a clear analytic explanation of the mechanism for determining dust content in galaxies after the activation of accretion growth: a balance between accretion growth and supernova destruction. Thus, the dust content is independent of the uncertainty of the stellar dust yield after the growth activation. The timing of the activation is determined by a critical metal mass fraction which depends on the growth and destruction efficiencies. The solar system formation seems to have occurred well after the activation and plenty of dust would have existed in the proto-solar nebula.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1039
Number of pages13
JournalEarth, Planets and Space
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmic dust
  • Galaxy evolution
  • Physical processes of dust in the interstellar medium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Space and Planetary Science


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