Jul 30, 2018

Astronomers Have Made The First Detection of a Radioactive Molecule in Space

Posted by in category: space

After a long search, a cosmic mystery has an answer. Astronomers have made the very first unambiguous detection of a radioactive molecule in space — an isotope of aluminium, found in the heart of a rare nova.

Scientists have long been searching for 26 AlF — or Aluminium monofluoride — containing 26 Al, but a direct observation has been exceptionally illusive.

We’ve known about the presence of 26 Al in space for decades. In 1984, NASA’s HEAO 3 satellite data was used to identify gamma-ray radiation originating from the beta decay of the isotope. According to these observations, there’s roughly two solar masses of 26 Al in the Milky Way.

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