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Published on Apr 2, 2012
This animation shows a dust particle bouncing around a portion of the cloud of gas and dust that later formed the solar system. The different colors indicate the intensity of ultraviolet radiation from nearby stars that the particle experiences. Black indicates the lowest radiation levels, red the highest. The scale is measured in astronomical units (AU). An AU equals the distance from Earth to the sun, approximately 93 million miles. (Fred Ciesla/University of Chicago)