Astronomers say that there is a lot of sticky grease in the middle of the dust, soot and electromagnetic radiation that occupies the stars of the Milky Way. The space grease happens to be a type of hydrogen-bound carbon known as aliphatic carbon. Aliphatic carbon is one of the numerous carbon types that leaks into the empty space from blazing stars and may comprise the ingredients necessary for the formation of news stars as well as planets.
The question is how much grease is sitting at the Milky Way? Well, scientists do not know the exact amount, but in a paper published in the Journal Monthly Novices of the Royal Astronomical Society on June 13, the grease is enough to mess up a spaceship’s windshield.
A group of astronomers from the University of New South Wales in Australia and Turkish Ege University suggest that there could be up to five times more space grease in the Milky Way than the previous estimations. The researchers further created a space-grease proxy in their lab and compared its composition with initial galaxy observations and discovered that there could be at least eleven billion trillion tons of greasy carbon molecules in the galaxy.
Tim Schmidt, a study author says that the space grease is not the kind of spread one would want to see on a slice of toast. The grease is not only dirty but also toxic and only occurs in the interstellar space environment and the laboratory. Schmidt adds that the solar wind may be preventing the grease from gumming up the solar system.
In a new study, Schmidt and his team carefully assessed the grease after creating some of their own in the lab. They then imitated the process by which stars synthesize gases then gust them into the interstellar medium then expanded a plasma rich in carbon. The end result was the releasing of dust similar to the interstellar dust where the grease spreads.
The team also used spectroscopy in determining the extent to which the greasy dust absorbed specific infrared light wavelengths. Using this data, the team could analyze initial observations of the nearby stars to conclude on the exact amount of greasy carbon that sits on various stars.
Following the observations, the researchers concluded that there are at least 100 space-grease atoms in every one million hydrogen atoms; the amount accounts for about one quarter and one half of the total interstellar carbon in the galaxy.
The knowledge on space grease could enable scientist to have better insights of the galaxy. As such, establishing the amount of carbon available could help scientists determine other life-supporting solar systems in the Milky Way.