Nanodiamonds are responsible for the mysterious source of microwaves in the galaxy

Nanodiamonds are responsible for the mysterious source of microwaves in the galaxy

Nanodiamonds in the sky

For decades, scientists have tried to understand what is the exact source of an unusual type of weak microwave glow coming from different parts of the Milky Way. An anomalous event is created by the energy released by rapidly rotating nanoparticles. They are so small that they challenge the detection of conventional microscopes.

The most likely culprit was considered to be a class of organic molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) —carbon-based molecules found in interstellar space and characterized by clear, but weak IR light. Nanodiamonds - especially hydrogenated nanodiamonds, endowed with hydrogen-containing molecules on the surface.

A series of observations at the Green Bank radio telescope and the Australian ATCA telescope for the first time revealed three clear sources of anomalous luminescence. They turned out to be three protoplanetary disks around the young stars V892 Tau, HD 97048, and MWC 297. Scientists also noted that the IR light from the systems corresponded to a unique signature of nanodiamonds. But other protoplanetary disks in the Milky Way are endowed with a clear IR-signature of PAHs.

This leads to the idea that PAHs are not a mysterious source of anomalous microwave radiation, as previously thought. Most likely, the culprit can be called nanodiamonds, which are formed in a natural way in protoplanetary disks and are found on terrestrial meteorites. Statistically, the models also support the idea that nanodiamonds are present in abundant amounts around the newborn stars and are responsible for the anomalous microwave radiation found there. There is only one chance at 10,000 that this connection is random. For analysis, we studied 14 young stars in our galaxy and the anomaly is visible in 3 stars, which are also the only ones that demonstrate the spectral signature of hydrogenated nanodiamonds.

All this is evidence in favor of the fact that the universe began with a period of inflation. If, after the Big Bang, the space has grown at a pace well ahead of the speed of light, then the trace of the inflation period should be considered in a kind of polarization of the CMB.

Nanodiamonds are formed from superheated carbon atoms and in highly activated regions of stellar birth. It does not look like industrial mining under terrestrial conditions. In astronomy, nanodiamonds are considered special, because their structure creates a “dipole moment” - the location of atoms, which allows them to release the EM rays during rotation. Such particles rotate at unusually high speeds, releasing rays in the microwave range.

Future devices, like Band 1 on ALMA, will allow to study this phenomenon in great detail. The researchers hope that having a physical model will allow us to come to an understanding faster.

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