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
MAY 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
What is the Potential for Life on Mars?
MAY 17, 2021
What is the Potential for Life on Mars?
International organizations are pouring in billions of dollars to find signs of life on Mars. While some evidence points ...
JUN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astrophysicists Discover Origins of First Structures in Milky Way
JUN 08, 2021
Astrophysicists Discover Origins of First Structures in Milky Way
A team of scientists led by the Centre for Astrobiology have discovered that the bulges we see in disc galaxies formed i ...
JUN 12, 2021
Cancer
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
JUN 12, 2021
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
In an interdisciplinary breakthrough, a recent study published in Science describes the development of a new platform, d ...
JUL 11, 2021
Space & Astronomy
A Black Hole-Neutron Star Merger Makes Waves
JUL 11, 2021
A Black Hole-Neutron Star Merger Makes Waves
Researchers have found evidence of two mergers of black holes and their companion neutron stars about 900 million light- ...
AUG 18, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Size of Black Holes Depends on their Feeding Patterns
AUG 18, 2021
The Size of Black Holes Depends on their Feeding Patterns
The feeding patterns of black holes are directly correlated to their size. The corresponding study was published in  ...
OCT 29, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
#BlackinPhysics Week Celebrates Black Physicists
OCT 29, 2021
#BlackinPhysics Week Celebrates Black Physicists
#BlackinPhysics week, a week dedicated to highlighting Black physicists and their contributions to the field of physics. ...
Loading Comments...