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Uncountable small molecules tumble quietly through the cold vacuum in the desolate regions of interstellar space. According to the researchers at the American Institute of Physics, these small molecules account for a large quantity of elements like carbon, silicon, hydrogen and other atoms present in the universe.
According to the astronomers, these interstellar molecules are responsible for initiating an observed event on the Earth and i.e. ‘diffuse interstellar bands’.
The spectrographic diffuse interstellar bands establish that there exist some occurrences in the universe that are responsible for the absorption of diverse colors of light from the stars before they arrive on our planet.
The researchers, however, say that they are still not clear about the actual chemical composition and arrangements of atoms in these inexplicable molecules.
This is the reason why scientists are still unsure about what is responsible for the phenomenon ‘diffuse interstellar bands’.
Lead investigator Michael McCarthy explains, “There have been a number of explanations over the years, and they cover the gamut.”
McCarthy is a top physicist from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
However, the new research indicates that these small molecules are likely to be silicon-capped hydrocarbons including SiC3H, SiC4H and SiC5H. The researchers caution that this explanation has not been proven determinedly.
Diffuse interstellar bands are “absorption features observed in the spectra of stars seen through significant column densities of interstellar material.” the researchers explain in the journal Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Despite several years of rigorous efforts dedicated to recognize the small interstellar molecules’ role behind diffuse interstellar bands, the world scientists have failed to produce its replica using similar facilities for same absorption spectra available on Earth.
“Not a single one has been definitively assigned to a specific molecule,” said co-author Neil Reilly, who is a former postdoctoral fellow in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The findings of the study were published in The Journal of Chemical Physics.