Pure iron grains are rare in the universe

phys.org | 2/8/2017 | Staff
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Pure iron grains in interstellar space are far rarer than previously thought, shedding new light on the evolution history of matters in the universe.

Scientists are unsure what form iron takes in outer space even though it is one of its most abundant refractory elements. Extensive analysis of meteorites and other measurements show only low levels of gaseous iron and solid iron compounds, such as iron oxides, sulfides and carbides. That leaves a substantial amount of iron missing, given how much is expected to exist in the universe. Scientists surmise that if iron is not combining with other particles, it might be forming pure metal which is invisible in outer space.

Theory - Paper - Journal - Science - Advances

That theory now appears unlikely, according to a paper recently published in the journal Science Advances.

A research team led by Hokkaido University and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency conducted a rocket-based experiment to simulate the formation of pure iron grains in space. Their measurements revealed grain formation is extremely rare, contrary to the previous theory.

Space - Grains - Explosion - Star - Supernova

In space, tiny solid grains are often formed following the epic explosion of a star, or supernova, which releases extremely hot gases full of different elements. As those gas molecules collide and start to cool, they might stick to each other and begin condensing into solid particles, a process called nucleation.

The researchers simulated supernova conditions by sending a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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