JUN 11, 2018 4:32 PM PDT

Are Nanodiamonds to Blame for Anomalous Microwave Emissions?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
AUG 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Space Rock May Contain Building Blocks for DNA
AUG 27, 2020
Space Rock May Contain Building Blocks for DNA
Researchers say that a space rock that landed in Costa Rica on April 23rd, 2019, came from an asteroid that exists as a ...
SEP 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
New Drug May Allow Astronauts to Spend Years in Space
SEP 08, 2020
New Drug May Allow Astronauts to Spend Years in Space
Without gravity from Earth, muscles and bones tend to weaken quickly. To combat this, astronauts usually need to spend t ...
OCT 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Four Lakes Detected Under Martian Surface
OCT 01, 2020
Four Lakes Detected Under Martian Surface
  Researchers from Roma Tre University in Italy have confirmed the existence of four large lakes under the ice at M ...
OCT 21, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Why Some Astronauts Get Blurry Vision After Spaceflight
OCT 21, 2020
Why Some Astronauts Get Blurry Vision After Spaceflight
Researchers from the University of Antwerp in Belgium have found that the fluid surrounding the brain, known as craniosp ...
OCT 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Merge AI and Photonics to Find New Earths
OCT 23, 2020
Astronomers Merge AI and Photonics to Find New Earths
Researchers from the University of Sydney have developed a new type of sensor capable of measuring and correcting starli ...
JAN 13, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Identify Another Crucial Aspect for Planets to Support Life
JAN 13, 2021
Astronomers Identify Another Crucial Aspect for Planets to Support Life
For some time now, we have known of the 'Goldilocks zone'- a distance from the sun that leads to planets neither ...
Loading Comments...