Scientists Have Finally Detected The First Molecule In The Universe.

Knowing the secrets of the universe and how it all started is one of the wildest dreams one could possibly imagine. Although with our current understanding it may seem like a mile to go, we have come to a step closer by detecting one of the first molecule of Universe.

Identified as Helium Hydride (HeH+), the molecule was discovered using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The molecule is located in the nebulae NGC 7027, at a distance of 3000 light-years from the earth near the constellation Cygnus. As per the scientist's estimates, the molecule first formed around 100,000 years after the big bang, when the temperature was cool enough for the molecules to combine.

"This molecule was lurking out there, but we needed the right instruments making observations in the right position — and SOFIA was able to do that perfectly,"

Harold Yorke, director of the SOFIA Science Center in California's Silicon Valley

Since SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope, it could be modified to fit new technologies for detailed detections. It's most recent upgrade included adding a specific channel to detect signatures of helium hydride, which was responsible for the discovery.

"This flexibility allows us to improve observations and respond to the most pressing questions that scientists want answered,"

Naseem Rangwala, SOFIA deputy project scientist

So what does this discovery tell us? Well earlier, the astronomers lacked evidence to confirm that the molecule could exist in the space or not. With that done, the researchers now have an idea about the chemistry of the early universe, and how it developed to this extent.

Also Read: Basics of Astrophysics Series

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