Observing the edge of the famous Horsehead Nebula with the IRAM interferometer located on the Plateau de Bures (France), a team of French and Spanish astronomers discovered a large quantity of small hydrocarbon molecules. This is a surprise because the intense UV radiation illuminating the Nebula should destroy the small hydrocarbons near the edge. The astronomers suggest that these molecules might result from the fragmentation of giant molecules, called “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons” (PAHs).
More than 120 molecules have been observed in the interstellar medium, of which about twenty are small hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons are an important component of the interstellar chemistry as they furnish a carbon skeleton needed to build more complex molecules. However, these small hydrocarbons are easily broken apart by the UV radiation from young stars. Therefore, astronomers try to understand how these molecules are regenerated in spite of their destruction by UV radiation.
In addition to these small hydrocarbons, giant molecules, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), were detected in the early 1980’s, at infrared wavelengths. PAHs are aggregates made of tens to hundreds of mainly carbon and hydrogen atoms. Previous theoretical studies suggested that radiative fragmentation of the PAHs lead to small hydrocarbons. Jérôme Pety (IRAM, France) and his colleagues  have now provided one major step toward validating this theoretical hypothesis. They observed the famous Horsehead Nebula with the IRAM Interferometer (Plateau de Bures, France) , to search for hydrocarbons and to compare their location with that of PAHs detected a few years ago with the ISO satellite in the same region.
Jennifer Martin | alfa
UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire
NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
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