Researchers have long speculated that, almost 100,000 Years after the big bang, hydrogen and helium merged to make helium hydride, the first molecule. That assisted the universe commence to cool and resulted in the making of stars. But, in spite of decades of research, researchers could never find helium hydride in space—until now.
NASA employed its SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) to find the primeval molecule. The researchers discovered it in a planetary nebula, NGC 7027 (a remainder of a Sun-akin star) situated 3,000 Light Years away. The detection proves that the molecule can be present in space, and it verifies theories about the evolution of universe and the chemistry of early universe. The results were posted in Nature.
The finding is also a testimony to the power of NASA’s newest tech. SOFIA is the largest airborne observatory in the world. It is a customized Boeing 747SP jetliner, and it gets back to the base after each flight. That lets NASA to include new equipments as they are accessible. A latest update to SOFIA’s GREAT (German Receiver at Terahertz Frequencies) tools made this finding achievable. Researchers were capable of tuning to the molecule’s frequency and hunt for it in NGC 7027.
On a related note, after a year of its blast off, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) found its first Earth-akin exoplanet. Dubbed as HD21749c, the planet revolves around a star only 53 Light Years from our plant and is uninhabitable but possibly rocky.
The results—posted in Astrophysical Journal Letters—recommend that TESS is able to fulfill its mission to list a number of planet candidates, comprising over 300 that are likely to be super-Earth-sized and Earth-sized exoplanets. This newly detected planet is the tinniest world that TESS has spotted and is located outside our solar system.