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Moths are also being fought in space: naphthalene components have been discovered in the clouds of outer space

Interstellar clouds, drifting in the endless expanses of space, contain hydrocarbons, one of which is the substance naphthalene - the moth repellent that keeps our clothes in the closet

Naphthalene in space. Photo: University of Georgia
Naphthalene in space. Photo: University of Georgia

Interstellar clouds, drifting in the endless expanses of space, may contain a treasure within them - it turns out that they contain surprising and interesting components, such as are known from the substance naphthalene.

Well, not exactly - however, researchers from the University of Georgia have shown, for the first time ever, that one of the components of these clouds emits rare infrared (IR) radiation that corresponds to the gaseous form of naphthalene, the main component of naphthalene balls ( moth repellent). These emissions have been observed by astronomers in the past for three decades, but no one has identified which particles exactly cause their formation.

The discovery that a unique type of naphthalene with one extra hydrogen atom exists in space is important to scientists studying the interstellar complexes for many reasons. One of the most important reasons lies in the fact that these emissions are related to the interstellar dust, and understanding the components of this cloud could provide clues to the origin of these mysterious objects. The new information may also provide insights into the life cycles of stars.

The research, led by chemistry professor Michael Duncan, was published in the scientific journal Astrophysical Journal.

"The discovery came thanks to the fact that we found in our laboratory a way to prepare naphthalene ions," notes the lead researcher, "and this allowed us to examine its infrared spectrum. It turned out that this spectrum exactly matches one of the undeciphered emission patterns originating from the interstellar dust."

The discovery that naphthalene is one of the components of interstellar dust is not entirely surprising since it consists of only hydrogen and carbon atoms. Hydrogen is the most common element in the interstellar clouds and carbon is another element that is very common there. At the same time, the discovery opens a window to a completely new field of research for astrophysicists and chemists trying to fully understand the compositions of space and its various regions.

Most scientists know naphthalene in its crystalline form as C10H8, meaning it contains ten carbon atoms and eight hydrogen atoms. The spectrum of this shape does not fit the emission patterns themselves. However, the research team has a solid reason to believe that the introduction of an additional hydrogen atom (actually a proton) into the naphthalene layer from the hydrogen reservoirs common in space, in a process of energetic collision between the materials, produces the ionized form C10H9+ that exactly matches the emission pattern received from space.

In order to confirm that this is indeed the form that exists in space, the team of researchers is required to produce it in the laboratory, under conditions close to absolute zero, then react with a laser to turn it into a gas and measure its infrared spectrum. In doing so, they were the first to obtain an infrared spectrum of naphthalene ions.

The importance of this discovery lies in the fact that scientists have found that interstellar dust is responsible for the creation of molecular hydrogen from its atoms, which are the main components of interstellar clouds. In addition, the scientists believe that other chemical processes occurring on the surface of the dust grains led to the formation of many compounds found on Earth, including perhaps even amino acids and proteins, which are essential to life. And, this dust is the source of the birth of new stars.

The new findings also support earlier predictions that claimed that the main source of the interstellar emission patterns are substances called "polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs" since naphthalene belongs to this chemical group. "Naphthalene ions themselves do not constitute the complete decoding of all the emission patterns," explains the researcher, "however, the characteristics of this spectrum suggest that hydrogen ions of larger PAHs can also be found. The same spectral changes that originate from the addition of protons to these large systems may be able to explain the rest of the emission patterns, thus solving one of the oldest astronomical mysteries." The team of scientists is now trying to prepare and test larger PAH ions.

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12 תגובות

  1. It is likely that there is life in nebulae of stars from Och, 3 and they take up more space than the volume of our biosphere.

  2. But why does the form C10H9+ exist more, after all, the aromatic substance is extremely stable, perhaps only a small percentage of the substance should be in the above form. That is, it is strange that we do not see a pattern of C10H8. Even in the nebula, the density of the substance is extremely sparse, in my opinion the chance of a fruitful collision between parts That the yield of such ions is low, in addition to that this ion does not seem to me to be the most stable... maybe it is a different substance after all?

  3. The message was deleted because he cursed the writer, but according to his logic no astronomical discovery can ever be published because they cannot reach the object of the discovery.

  4. That's it, no more excuses. If until now we haven't sent people to colonize the universe because we were afraid of the universe, then that's no longer an excuse! I'm more afraid of the culture of people like the man than one comment.

    And for that matter, I thought we already knew how to read "fingerprints" of many types of molecules with all the supercomputers, physics and simulators.
    Mmmm disappointing. Very disappointing.
    Please increase the rate of science by 10%. Oh, isn't that civilization? Well, make rockets and that's it. I went. {enters a teleportation chamber} {recreates in another 2000 years}
    {crap my DNA is obsolete 2}

  5. That's it, no more excuses. If until now we haven't sent people to colonize the universe because we were afraid of the fire then that's no longer an excuse! Come on. I am first…

  6. Comment #1 should not be published. It's a shame that the site doesn't have a mechanism to handle such comments.

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