Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Noble gas molecule discovered in space
by Staff Writers
Cardiff, UK (SPX) Dec 13, 2013


File image.

A molecule containing a noble gas has been discovered in space by a team including astronomers from Cardiff University.

The find was made using a Cardiff-led instrument aboard Europe's Herschel Space Observatory. The molecule, argon hydride, was seen in the Crab Nebula, the remains of a star that exploded 1,000 years ago. Before the discovery, molecules of this kind have only been studied in laboratories on Earth.

The noble gases, which include helium, argon, radon and krypton, usually do not react easily with other chemical elements, and are often found on their own. In the right circumstances, however, they can form molecules with other elements. Such chemical compounds have only ever been studied in laboratories on Earth, leading astronomers to assume the right conditions simply do not occur in space.

"The Crab Nebula was only formed 1000 years ago when a massive star exploded", said Dr Haley Gomez of Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy.

"Not only is it very young in astronomical terms, but also relatively close, at just 6,500 light years away, providing an excellent way to study what happens in these stellar explosions. Last year, we used the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory to study the intricate network of gas filaments to show how exploding stars are creating huge amounts of space dust."

Further measurements of the Crab Nebula were made using Herschel's SPIRE instrument. Its development and operation was led by Professor Matt Griffin, from the School of Physics and Astronomy.

As molecules spin in space, they emit light of very specific wavelengths, or colours, called "emission lines". The precise wavelength is dictated by the composition and structure of the molecule. Studying the emission lines observed by the SPIRE instrument allows astronomers to study the chemistry of outer space.

The team, led by Professor Mike Barlow from University College London, did not set out to make the discovery, but stumbled upon it almost by accident.

"We were really concentrating on studying the dust in the filaments with SPIRE, and out pops these two bright emission lines exactly where we see the dust shining", says Dr Gomez. "The team had a hard time figuring out what these lines were from, as no-one had seen them before."

Professor Barlow said, "At first, the discovery of argon seemed bizarre. With hot gas still expanding at high speeds after the explosion, a supernova remnant is a harsh, hot and hostile environment, and one of the places where we least expected to find a noble-gas based molecule."

It now seems the Crab Nebula provides exactly the right conditions to form such molecules. The argon was produced in the initial stellar explosion, and then ionised, or energised, with electrons stripped from the atoms in resulting intense radiation as shockwaves.

These shockwaves led to the formation of the network of cool filaments containing cold molecular hydrogen, made of two hydrogen atoms. The ionised argon then mixed with the cool gas to provide perfect conditions for noble gas compounds to form.

The measurements allowed the team to gauge other properties in argon molecules. "Finding this kind of molecule allowed us to evaluate the type (or isotope) of argon we discovered in the Crab Nebula," said Dr Gomez.

"We now know that it is different from argon we see in rocks on the Earth. Future measurements will allow us to probe what exactly took place in the explosion 1000 years ago."

"What a great detective story", added Prof Matt Griffin, from Cardiff University, and lead scientist of the team behind the SPIRE instrument.

"Here we see the excellent performance of the Herschel-SPIRE spectrometer, the expertise of the instrument team in producing the highest quality data, and the tenacity and vision of the scientists analysing it, all coming together to make an intriguing new discovery."

"Detection of a Noble Gas Molecular Ion, 36ArH+, in the Crab Nebula", by M. J. Barlow et al., published in the Dec 13th issue of Science, Volume 342, Issue 6164, DOI: 10.1126/science.1243582

.


Related Links
Cardiff University
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Hidden Details Revealed in Nearby Starburst Galaxy: Green Bank Telescope's new vision debuts
Charlotteville VA (SPX) Dec 13, 2013
Using the new, high-frequency capabilities of the National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), astronomers have captured never-before-seen details of the nearby starburst galaxy M82. These new data highlight streamers of material fleeing the disk of the galaxy as well as concentrations of dense molecular gas surrounding pockets of intense star formation. M82, wh ... read more


STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Ancient crater could hold clues about moon's mantle

Minerals in giant impact crater may be clues to moon's makeup, origin

Silent Orbit for China's Moon Lander

China's most moon-like place

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
The Tough Task of Finding Fossils While Wearing a Spacesuit

Mars One Selects Lockheed Martin to Study First Private Unmanned Mission to Mars

SSTL selected for first private Mars mission

NASA Curiosity: First Mars Age Measurement and Human Exploration Help

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Quails in orbit: French cuisine aims for the stars

Heat Shield for NASA's Orion Spacecraft Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Space exploration can drive the next agricultural revolution

Global patent growth hits 18-year high

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Chang'e-3 probe moves closer to the moon

China's first lunar rover lands on moon: State TV

China moon rover enters lunar orbit: Xinhua

Turkey keen on space cooperation with China

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
NASA reports coolant loop problem at ISS

Space station cooling breakdown may delay Orbital launch

New crew to run space station in March

Russian android may take on outer space operations at ISS

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Russian Official Plays Down Concerns on Future of Proton

The ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus satellites for launch by Ariane 5 are welcomed in French Guiana

Arianespace to launch Brazilian government satellite SGDC

Kazakhstan to end Proton missions in 2025

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Feature of Earth's atmosphere may help in search for habitable planets

Astronomers discover planet that shouldn't be there

Hot Jupiters Highlight Challenges in the Search for Life Beyond Earth

Astronomers find strange planet orbiting where there shouldn't be one

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Citrus fruit inspires a new energy-absorbing metal structure

Intense 2-color double X-ray laser pulses: a powerful tool to study ultrafast processes

Highly insulating windows are very energy efficient, though expensive

Silver corrosion provides clues about performance in atmospheric conditions




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement