'Cosmic barometer' could help study violent events in universe's past
Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a method for analysing the pressure experienced by tiny samples of organic material that may have been ejected from dying stars before making a long journey through the cosmos.
The researchers have investigated a type of aromatic hydrocarbon called dimethylnaphthalene, which should enable them to identify violent events in the history of the universe.
Samples of dimethylnaphthalene are found in meteorites. Previously, scientists have only had the ability to investigate how they have been affected by heat.
The Imperial researchers say their method for detecting periods when dimethylnaphthalenes have experienced high pressure will now allow for a much more comprehensive analysis of organic materials.
"The ability to detect high pressure environments in space has tremendous implications for our ability to learn more about the formation of our solar system and the universe.
Dimethylnaphthalenes are like microscopic barometers and thermometers recording changes in pressure and heat as they travel through space. Understanding these changes lets us probe their history, and with that, the history of the galaxy," Dr Wren Montgomery, co-author from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, said.
(Posted on 01-04-2014)