A group of researchers recently made history after they stumbled upon an incredible Crab Nebula noble gas discovery. Until now, noble gas molecules have not been detected in space, according to a new study published in the journal Science on Friday. As reported by Red Orbit on Dec. 13, the UK astronomers discovered argon hydride within the Crab Nebula.
Michael Barlow, who is the lead researcher on the team responsible for making the Crab Nebula noble gas discovery, said:
"At first, the discovery seemed bizarre," he expressed. "With hot gas still expanding at high speeds after the explosion, a supernova remnant is a harsh, hostile environment, and one of the places where we least expected to find a noble-gas based molecule."
The team used ESA's Herschel Space Observatory to observe the Crab Nebula in far infrared light. While doing measurements of regions of cold gas and dust, the researchers accidentally made the Crab Nebula noble gas discovery.
"This is not only the first detection of a noble-gas based molecule in space, but also a new perspective on the Crab Nebula," said Göran Pilbratt, Herschel project scientist at the European Space Agency. "Herschel has directly measured the argon isotope we expect to be produced via explosive nucleosynthesis in a core-collapse supernova, refining our understanding of the origin of this supernova remnant."
The findings support scientists' theories of how argon forms in nature and the discovery will trace the abundance of argon 36 and use this information to further the study of the chemical evolution of our galaxy.
The Crab Nebula is a formation of gases and dust from the explosion of a supernova that was first observed in 1054 by Chinese astronomers and it is located in the constellation Taurus, which hosts two of the nearest open clusters to Earth, the Pleiades and the Hyades, both of which can be seen by the naked eye.