JUN 11, 2018 04:32 PM PDT

Are Nanodiamonds to Blame for Anomalous Microwave Emissions?

Astronomers are always attempting to answer the seemingly endless stream of questions that arise from studying outer space. One of the most crucial questions emanates from our curiosity about the mechanisms behind planetary formation throughout the universe.

Jane Greaves is just one of several astronomers that scrutinizes stellar systems with high-power telescopes in an attempt to find answers. In her search, she looks for concentrations of dust orbiting distant stars; said dust is thought to clump together over millions of years to form planets.

Stellar nanodiamonds may have warped starlight in such a way that it yielded unexpected data during observations.

Image Credit: S. Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

While studying various stellar systems with the Virginia-based Green Bank telescope a few years back, Greaves reported strange findings that she couldn’t explain in three particular systems. As it would seem, she stumbled upon a little-understood phenomenon known as anomalous microwave emission (AME).

“I was looking for emissions from small dust particles that would get steadily brighter. But this emission got brighter and then got fainter again as you went along in the wavelength—and that's a really difficult thing to make by most astronomical processes,” Greaves explained.

“I’ve been staring at this set of numbers for about eight years or so going ‘those are wrong, those are wrong,’” she continued.

Related: This star reportedly went supernova more than once

Upon sharing and re-analyzing the findings with her colleagues, Greaves says they’ve found one thing in common with all three of the systems that echoed the strange readings: each one contained star-orbiting nanodiamonds dispersed throughout the dust particles. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The so-called nanodiamonds measure mere nanometers across and appear to be coated in a layer of hydrogen that they would have accumulated while floating through gaseous hydrogen in space.

Despite being so tiny, Greaves and her colleagues propose that these nanodiamonds were just influential enough to manipulate the light passing through and reflecting from them, which would have sent wonky data to any telescope looking right at it.

At this point, the theory is highly preliminary, so it will require additional research to validate and investigate what’s actually going on. Fortunately, Greaves intends to further her research into these intriguing systems to learn more about these nanodiamonds and how they impact their surroundings.

“Hopefully we’ll get a statistical view of whether this is something much bigger than three particular protoplanetary discs,” Greaves added.

Related: Can we trust LIGO's gravity wave data?

It should be interesting to see what becomes of any future research.

Source: Popular Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2019
Here's Why Pluto Was Demoted to a Dwarf Planet
Pluto was once called a planet in our solar system, but those definitions changed in 2006, and this officially demoted Pluto from a planet to a dwarf plane...
OCT 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 21, 2019
A Changed Game Plan for the Dark Matter Hunt
Constituting 27% of the total matter-energy continuum in our universe, dark matter is a hypothetic entity that is thought to be abundant, capable of influencing ordinary matter through gravit...
OCT 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2019
Just How Reusable is SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket?
  SpaceX originally designed its acclaimed Falcon 9 rocket to be a reusable rocket platform. With literally dozens of Falcon 9 rocket launches and lan...
OCT 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2019
Here's Why NASA Wants to Learn More About Metallic Asteroids
NASA’s Psyche mission will investigate the properties of a unique metallic asteroid residing between Mars and Jupiter as it orbits the Sun. It’...
OCT 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2019
All About NASA's Upcoming Plan to Explore Europa
Planetary scientists have been in search of potentially habitable worlds for years, and perhaps one of the most promising places we have yet to explore in...
OCT 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2019
NASA's Dawn Mission Taught Us Much About the Asteroid Vesta
In 2011, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft arrived at its destination, enabling planetary scientists with the American space agency to study a particularly capt...
Loading Comments...