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The view that dust is essential to star formation is challenged on the ground that other interstellar constituents can provide more rapid cooling. From the evidence of stellar minimum masses it is suggested that self absorption of the radiation emitted by the coolant H2is the dominant mechanism leading to the heating of a collapsing fragment. It is however shown that extensive dust and molecule formation may take place during star formation and that a natural explanation for the 4 terrestrialdoi:10.1017/s0074180900054723 fatcat:25kkaonnnffldfstf5egputoyu