Astronomers have finally managed to find lithium in the cosmic materials blasted by an exploding star. The event itself is known as a nova and the one the researchers looked at for their study may help them explain a long held mystery in the field of astrophysics.
The astronomers examined Nova Centauri, which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will tell you exploded back in 2013, and found traces of lithium on the materials ejected by the nova.
The European Southern Observatory gave a statement on Wednesday saying that “This new finding fills in a long-missing piece in the puzzle representing our galaxy’s chemical evolution”.
The Observatory went on to add that this is a huge step forward for the astronomers who are currently trying to learn the amount that each chemical elements can be found in, in stars, inside our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Field experts do in fact have access to Big Bang models from 13.8 billion years ago, from the very beginning of the universe. Theoretically, these models should help them make fairly accurate calculations regarding the amount of lithium each type of star should have.
However, real world tests have revealed that older starts have less lithium than the models claim, whereas younger stars have more lithium than the models claim.
It’s important for field experts to know the real numbers as Verne V. Smith published a study in 2010 informing that lithium has become a very important quantitative test in understanding stellar evolution.
One working theory that’s been suggested for a long time is that younger starts have less lithium than expected because the novae expel the element, “‘seeding’ space with lithium, and enriching the interstellar medium from which new stars are born”.
But this is the first time that clear and undeniable proof to support the theory has been found. The European Southern Observatory shared that the astronomers have found that lithium in Nova Centauri is being expelled at around 1.24 million miles per hour, which may explain the surprisingly large amount of lithium found in the Milky Way when taking into consideration all the other billions of novae that have exploded in our galaxy.
Massimo Della Valle, a co-author on the new study, also gave a statement saying that if we were to look at Milky Way’s history of chemical evolution as one big jigsaw puzzle, then lithium expelled by novae was one of the valuable and puzzling missing pieces.
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