After decades of space research, scientists claim they have identified the first molecular bonds that formed at the beginning of the Universe after the Big Bang.
The discovery of helium hydride (HeH +) in the NGC 7027 nebula resulted in epic hunting astronomers to find molecules that are hard to understand in space.
"The lack of evidence for the presence of helium in the universe has challenged the understanding of chemistry at the beginning of the Universe," said astronomer Rolf Gusten ScienceAlert, published on Friday, April 19, 2019.
"The scans that have been reported now have resolved such doubts," he continued.
As soon as the universe was cooled down after the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago, the theory reported that the ions of the light elements began to recombine with each other.
"In this non-metallic and low-density environment, neutral atoms of the sun form the first molecular bond of the Universe to helium hydride (HeH +), through the proton-irradiation relationships," explains Gusten and his colleagues in a new paper .
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Scientists estimate that HeH + could have formed in the nebula in the 70's, but so far they have not been able to detect it.
According to the researchers, this is due to the fact that the Earth's atmosphere was essentially a barrier to the earth-based spectrometer (instrument for determining the wavelengths of various rays).
The Gusten team was able to overcome these obstacles at the same time, thanks to the capacity of the German Terahertz (GREAT) astronomy receiver when it was thrown off NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
According to Gusten, GREAT is the only device that can do this kind of observation and is only able to see outdoor helium if released first in the air.
"Someone or something can not do such a survey from a ground observatory, because at a wavelength of 149 μm the Earth's atmosphere is completely opaque," explained Güsten.
"So we have to go in space or use our instruments from the platform by flying at an altitude like SOFIA floating above the lower atmosphere," he continued.