Scientists have identified diamonds as the reason for a mysterious cosmic glow coming from certain parts of the Milky Way galaxy.
It has long been known that a small particle was the cause of the glow, which is called an anomalous microwave emission. A new study has now finally answered one of the space mysteries that has baffled astronomers for a long time.
Diamond Dust Behind Mysterious Cosmic Glow
For decades, astronomers have been trying to figure out the exact source of a faint microwave light that is coming from several regions in the Milky Way galaxy. The mysterious light, known as AME, is known to be caused by nanoparticles, but the nature of the source was unidentified.
Observations taken from West Virigina's Green Bank Telescope and the Australia Telescope Compact Array, however, have finally provided the answer.
In a new study, researchers looked for AME light within 14 newborn star systems throughout the galaxy. Emissions were found in three of the systems, released from the discs of gas and dust that were circling the stars.
The team also spotted the unique infrared-light signatures associated with nanodiamonds, which are carbon crystals that are much smaller than grains of sand, only in the three systems.
Due to the unique arrangement of the atoms in nanodiamonds, they emit radiation while spinning, creating the cosmic glow that the astronomers on Earth detect.
"In a Sherlock Holmes-like method of eliminating all other causes, we can confidently say the best candidate capable of producing this microwave glow is the presence of nanodiamonds around these newly formed stars," said astronomer Jane Greaves, the lead author of the study who is from Wales' Cardiff University.
Nanodiamonds are best known as components of the meteorites that fall into Earth, but they are also found within protoplanetary discs, which are the rings of gas and dust that surround newly formed stars. The protoplanetary discs also contain the components that may result in the formation of new planets, and they feature very high temperature that is a requirement for the creation of nanodiamonds.
Nanodiamonds And The Big Bang
The scientists behind the study have suggested that the findings may have implications for astronomers who are studying the universe's earliest days, right after the Big Bang.
With the discovery that the source of AME is diamond dust in space, astronomers will be better equipped to remove the instances of that microwave light when observing the Milky Way galaxy. Scientists will then be able to study the background microwave light that was caused by the Big Bang.