helium Current Affairs - 2020

Indian Astrophysicists: Lithium in Interstellar space & Red Giants have Connection

The Researchers in the Indian Institute of Astrophysics frame a connection between Lithium in interstellar space and lithium in red giants. The Lithium rich Helium burning stars also have connections with red giant stars.

Highlights

A team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics have discovered a number of Lithium rich red giants. The study says that the present amount of Lithium found in the Universe is four times that of the primordial value. Primordial means existing from the beginning time. This, in fact is the primary reason for scientists to identify Lithium rich sources. Finding such sources will help in validating Big Bang Nucleosynthesis

Bing Bang Nucleosynthesis

The Big Bang Nucleosynthesis is the production of nuclei other than that of the lightest isotope of hydrogen (1H – Hydrogen 1) during an early phase of the Universe. This includes helium-4, helium-3, lithium-7.

After Hydrogen and Helium, it is lithium that is present in abundance in the universe.

NASA Spots 1st Molecule of the Universe

The scientists have detected the first molecule to ever form from stray atoms in the universe. The first such molecule was helium hydride, a combination of helium and hydrogen. The discovery is a first step in unlocking the mystery of the universe’s chemistry.

About the Discovery

  • The research was published in the journal Nature.
  • The researchers used the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) SOFIA, the world’s largest airborne observatory, to detect helium hydride in NGC 7027, a planetary nebula about 3,000 light-years away from Earth.

SOFIA

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope.

Scientists for long had held that around 100,000 years after the big bang, helium and hydrogen combined to make a molecule called helium hydride for the first time. But scientists could not find HeH+ in space and it was unproven.  The discovery brought a long search to a happy ending and eliminates doubts about our understanding of the underlying chemistry of the early universe.