28 Apr 2019

First molecule formed after the Big bang discovered in space rescently!

The first molecule ever formed in the Universe observed, the  Helium Hydride.

13.8 billion years ago, just after the Big bang there was  nothing like today. At that time there was nothing like black holes, galaxy, stars, planets, and even molecules. The only thing in existence was that time had energy and elements in atomic form and even not as molecules.

This all continued till 100,000 years after big bang, and there after first molecule came ever into existence in the Universe.

And that first  molecule was ever Helium hydride ion (simply called HeH+), which were made up of the lightest known elements of that time Helium and Hydrogen. This process was completed due to decrease in  the temperature of universe closure to 4000 K because of actions of ions that combine with free electrons to form neutral atom.

This Helium Hydride  also found on the Earth but in laboratory only. And this molecule also played a very important role when life on Earth was formed. But till now Helium Hydride was not found ever naturally, and this should be due to lack of  technology that we need.

But, here scientists have found it first time ever in the history of space science, the first molecule ever formed in the Universe, the  Helium Hydride.

Interestingly Helium Hydride was first seen on the earth by experiment in 1925, and since then many attempts and experiments were done to see the first ever bond formed. And on natural existence it was believed that Helium Hydride is  abundantly found in planetary nebulae, this is because of the high temperature which results to large scale ionization resulting formation of HeH+.

David Neufeld, a Co-author of the study who is a Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at John Hopkins University, described the discovery perfectly by saying, “The discovery of HeH+ is a dramatic and beautiful demonstration of Nature’s tendency to form molecules. Despite the unpromising ingredients that are available, a mixture of hydrogen with the unreactive noble gas helium, and a harsh environment at thousands of degrees Celsius, a fragile molecule form. Remarkably, this phenomenon can not only be observed by astronomers but also understood using theoretical models that we have developed.”

We have discovered very much mysterious things in this Universe, then why this discovery is so late? What problems were stopping the way of this discoveries?

In this case real challenge was not the absence of abounded amount of Helium Hydride molecule or technical capability, it was Earth's own atmosphere. Due,to the presence of water vapour and density of gases in Earth’s atmosphere, cut out the range of electromagnetic waves that HeH+ gives out, in the far-infrared wavelength. In short, Helium Hydride (HeH+) was undetectable from ground.

NASA joined with German aerospace centre to overcome this challenge to detect Helium Hydride with an airborne Observatory. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy ( SOFIA), could make observations from the altitude of 14,000 meters.

This high altitude Observatory gives benefit in reducing 85 percent of noise from the atmosphere that is received by ground based telescopes, and this makes advantage for SOFIA to observe this first ever formed molecule after big bang.

Astronomer Rolf Güsten mentioned that we can now put constraints on the chemical reactions that control the formation and destruction of the helium hydride molecule which will give a completely new dimension to our research. He said,“The respective rates are difficult to calculate, and in the literature have changed by a factor of 10 in recent years. Our observations will help to ‘calibrate’ these rates, and this will feed-back into the chemical ‘networks’ of the early Universe.”

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