After many studies and discoveries around those years, some things are still suspicious. That is the case of the Universe’s earliest molecule. After the Big Bang, more than 13 billion years ago, some substances like helium and hydrogen have combined and formed the first molecule – helium hydride. This mysterious molecule has helped the Universe to cool down and to create stars. The problem was that the scientists couldn’t locate it until now.
Thanks to Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), NASA has detected the molecule. They have found it in the NGC 7027, the planetary nebula located 3,000 light-years away.
The planetary nebula is a remnant of a star like the Sun. What the scientists have discovered can prove that helium hydride can exist in space. Moreover, that is confirming their theory about the chemical reactions produced in the early Universe and its rapid evolution.
NASA’s SOFIA helped the researchers find the earliest molecule in the Universe
This fantastic discovery was possible with the power of NASA’s SOFIA. At this moment SOFIA is the world’s largest airborne observatory. SOFIA was developed based on a Boeing 747SP wide-body aircraft, modified to include a large door that can be open in flight and to allow a 2.5 m diameter reflecting telescope to access the sky. SOFIA can rise above almost all of the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere, and the cruising altitude is 85%.
Moreover, the telescope used by SOFIA has a Cassegrain reflector optical system; it is designed with a parabolic primary mirror and a configurable hyperbolic secondary mirror. NASA added new tools when they needed, and they are available in the modified Boeing 747SP jetliner. Also, the recent upgrade received by SOFIA is the German Receiver at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) that made this discovery possible.
Finally, scientists have used GREAT by tuning the frequency of the molecule and searched it in NGC 7027, and they founded precisely where they expected to be since the 1970s.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.