Russian Astronomers Have Discovered Three New Types Of Natural Space Lasers
Scientists from Russia, in collaboration with foreign colleagues, have discovered three new types of space masers – non-man-made lasers of the Universe that work on radio waves. The discovery sheds light (almost literally) on the mysteries of the formation of massive stars.
The achievement is described in a scientific article published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
These natural objects work like real lasers, but they emit radio waves instead of visible light.
Masers differ in which molecules are the source of radiation. The strongest radiation is provided by water (H2O), hydroxyl (OH), methanol (CH3OH) and silicon monoxide (SiO).
Now scientists from the Ural Federal University, together with foreign colleagues, have discovered maser radiation from three new molecules in space. First, it is HDO, that is, a water molecule containing one atom of ordinary hydrogen (without neutrons in the core) and one atom of deuterium – a rare isotope of hydrogen with a neutron in the core.
Second, it is HNCO, i.e. isocyanic acid. Finally, it is 13CH3OH, that is, methanol, the carbon atom in which contains an additional neutron (which is also very rare).
All these molecules were contained in a cloud of matter gradually settling on the young massive star G358. 93-0. 03. The formation of this star is not yet complete, and the gas settling on it serves as a kind of building material.
Observations have shown that the bright glow of new molecular masers is a short-term phenomenon that lasts about one month and is probably the result of an accretion flash that occurs when a massive clot [consisting of] surrounding matter falls on a star,
says Andrey Sobolev, a co–author of the study Director of the Lourov Astronomical Observatory of URFU.
This brief flash was a great success for astronomers. It illuminated (almost literally) the formation of a massive star. After studying the laser beams emitted by the substance, experts were convinced that this matter fell on the newborn star in a spiral.
Theorists have previously assumed that "fresh" gas falls on forming stars in a spiral, but observers have not previously been able to confirm this. Now it was possible to do this thanks to the discovery of new masers (which, however, is interesting in itself).