Scientists have made an amazing discovery where they have identified a single radioactive molecule present in space, which originated from a stellar explosion occurring way back. The research team was led by a member of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Tomasz Kaminski. Until 17th century, the astronomers observed a brightly shining nova present in the constellation Vulpecula. However, they were only able to observe the particular star with naked eyes, and could carry no further research, which was the situation till 2013, when a unique isotopic molecular gas was traced to that stellar event, leading to a renewed interest in that particular nova.
The research showed that this nova may have been caused due to the merging of 2 stars in the red nova, wherein after merging, the collided stars cool off, in the process producing huge quantities of dust and molecular gas. The molecular gas was identified as 26 AlF, aluminum’s radioactive isotope that was present in the nova’s remains, called the CK Vul. Besides being the first occasion that such detection of the radioactive molecule in space has happened, it is additionally the foremost identification of an object producing that specific isotope of aluminum (26 AlF). Through this isotope, scientists will be able to have a better understanding of the CK Vul merger phenomenon. The study also shows that such kinds of collisions can leave even a star’s deepest layers exposed. The study also raises new questions such as the actual isotope amount found as well as its origins. Also, this research has highlighted the usefulness of the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) in searching 26 Al producers.
Meanwhile, the suborbital spaceplane VSS Unity by Virgin Galactic has just successfully passed its third-ever test flight, reaching an altitude of 52,060 meters while achieving a speed of Mach 2.47. The space plane was carried over the Mojave Air and Spaceport in Southern California by VMS Eve, which is its mothership. The pilots manning the plane were Dave Mackay and Mike Masucci, who were lucky enough to observe the Earth’s curvature. The first two flights of Unity had occurred in April and May this year.