A team of scientists discovered a ton of molecules in two of the most amazing galaxies in the universe and they have quite the story to tell. Astronomers targeted two galaxies using the Northern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA), capable of detecting millimeter and submillimeter radio waves. Using this technology, the team detected emissions from 13 different molecules. The team was led by Chentao Yang of The Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.
The information collected by the team helped scientists improve understanding on how stars were formed in the galaxies. APM 08279+5255 is one of the galaxies targeted, part of a quasar which is an active supermassive black hole that is sucking in large amounts of gas. The other galaxy, NCv1.143, is more of a normal operating galaxy. Both galaxies are forming stars at a drastic rate, hundreds of times faster than in the Milky Way Galaxy. The discovery is the largest collection of molecules ever found in galaxies at distances of this extreme; 20 billion light years away and getting further due to universe expansion.
A few of the 13 molecules found were carbon monoxide, carbon monosulfide, the cyano radical, the formyl cation, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen isocyanide, nitric oxide and water. The members of Yang’s team also found five molecules that hadn’t been seen before in the early universe. These molecules were Cyclopropenylidene, which is also found on Saturn’s moon Titan; diazenylium, radicals of the organic molecule ethynyl; hydronium ions; and radicals of methylidyne. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of these astronomers, we have one more chapter of the stories our universe’s stars tell.