Grease in space

Grease in space
An illustration of the structure of a greasy carbon molecule, set against an image of the galactic centre, where this material has been detected. Carbon is represented as grey spheres and hydrogen as white spheres. Credit: D. Young (2011), The Galactic Center. Flickr – CreativeCommons

The galaxy is rich in grease-like molecules, according to an Australian-Turkish team. Astronomers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney (UNSW), and Ege University in Turkey used a laboratory to manufacture material with the same properties as interstellar dust and used their results to estimate the amount of 'space grease' found in the Milky Way. Their results appear in a paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Organic matter of different kinds contains , an element considered essential for life. There is though real uncertainty over its abundance, and only half the carbon expected is found between the stars in its pure form. The rest is chemically bound in two main forms, grease-like (aliphatic) and mothball-like (aromatic).

The UNSW / Ege team used a laboratory to create material with the same properties as . They mimicked the process by which organic molecules are synthesised in the outflows of carbon stars, by expanding a carbon-containing plasma into a vacuum at low temperature. The material was collected and then analysed by a combination of techniques. Using magnetic resonance and spectroscopy (splitting light into its constituent wavelengths) they were able to determine how strongly the material absorbed light with a certain infrared wavelength, a marker for aliphatic carbon.

"Combining our lab results with observations from astronomical observatories allows us to measure the amount of aliphatic carbon between us and the stars," explained Professor Tim Schmidt, from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science in the School of Chemistry at UNSW Sydney.

The researchers found that there are about 100 greasy carbon atoms for every million hydrogen atoms, accounting for between a quarter and a half of the available carbon. In the Milky Way galaxy, this amounts to about 10 billion trillion trillion tonnes of greasy matter, or enough for 40 trillion trillion trillion packs of butter.

Schmidt is quick to dispel the comparison with anything edible: "This space grease is not the kind of thing you'd want to spread on a slice of toast! It's dirty, likely toxic and only forms in the environment of interstellar space (and our laboratory). It's also intriguing that organic material of this kind – material that gets incorporated into planetary systems – is so abundant."

The team now wants to determine the abundance of the mothball-like carbon, which will involve yet more challenging work in the laboratory. By firmly establishing the amount of each type of carbon in the dust, they will know precisely how much of this element is available to create life.


Explore further

Constraining the chemistry of carbon-chain molecules in space

More information: B Günay et al. Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Content of Interstellar Dust, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2018). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sty1582
Citation: Grease in space (2018, June 27) retrieved 22 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-space.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
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Jun 27, 2018
So, this is a KFC universe? Producing inedible toxic wastes?

More evidence for Stupid Design.

Jun 27, 2018
The researchers found that there are about 100 greasy carbon atoms for every million hydrogen atoms...
Hmmm, Luc Besson already knew about this years ago - https://www.youtu...oLi_3_Fk ...... at 2:24...

Jun 27, 2018
The researchers found that there are about 100 greasy carbon atoms for every million hydrogen atoms...
Hmmm, Luc Besson already knew about this years ago - https://www.youtu...oLi_3_Fk ...... at 2:24...


I thought it might have been the consequences of a nasty accident on the spaceship swine trek.

https://www.youtu...1NlwytF4

Jun 27, 2018
consequences of a nasty accident on the spaceship swine trek
For which one would need a liberal application of oinkment, perhaps?

Jun 27, 2018
Hey, I thought it was my life mission to boar people on this
site!?!

SL, really? A cinema director for scientific speculations? You can't even call them predictions. So he got one wild and crazy sound-bite sort of half-assed right. What about the hundreds of other speculative plot-points in his films that turned out wrong?

Jun 28, 2018
Hey, I thought it was about some musical space opera, with dancing.

Jun 28, 2018
Hey, I thought it was about some musical space opera, with dancing.


...and beautiful women.

Jun 28, 2018
"The UNSW / Ege team used a laboratory to create material with the same properties as interstellar dust. They mimicked the process by which organic molecules are synthesised in the outflows of carbon stars, by expanding a carbon-containing plasma into a vacuum at low temperature."

So, they didn't CREATE anything since they used the raw materials of 'carbon-containing plasma' which already existed. By using the term, "create", it becomes FAKE NEWS.

Jun 28, 2018
@rrw
SL, really? A cinema director for scientific speculations? You can't even call them predictions. So he got one wild and crazy sound-bite sort of half-assed right
Hey, lighten up already - it's a leg pull. So, tell me: which side did you fall down?

Jun 28, 2018
@seu
So, they didn't CREATE anything since they used the raw materials of 'carbon-containing plasma' which already existed. By using the term, "create", it becomes FAKE NEWS
Well, you don't exactly pick up "carbon-containing plasma" at Walmart or Radio Shack - you have to make it. You know, create it by combining stuff in new ways?

And are you saying that Leonardo didn't create the Mona Lisa when he used all that paint which previously existed? And all those authors of classic novels created nothing when they used all those nouns and verbs and such, which - let's face it, anybody can use.

Or maybe it's some big bearded space fairy who creates everything, and we're just puppets on strings who just think we create stuff? In which case, I'll just open another bottle here...

Jun 28, 2018
Sorry Skylight but you fail to comprehend the horror of the pseudoscience you have unleashed.

This is the Internet were every crank opinion in permanently set in stone. (cuneiform). Years from now you will rediscover your "joke" trial balloon has expanded into a meme-zeppelin and is leaving flaming commentaries all over the Web!

Jun 28, 2018
@rrw
Years from now you will rediscover your "joke" trial balloon has expanded into a meme-zeppelin
Let the interweb, and the countless cranks who infest it, do what it will... I simply couldn't care less.

You should get out more...

Jun 28, 2018
I'm waiting for the "Happy Hour" drivers to be home or in jail or the morgue. And for the gunfire to have died down a bit.

Jun 29, 2018
te, it "proves" that where found to date and verified, organic material can exist. No other conclusions can legitimately be accepted without a whole lot of supporting evidence yet to be gathered. Not even proven if the discovery was of organic or inorganic chemistry.

What occurs in your village? May not occur anywhere else on Earth. And absolutely has no effect or affect upon the greater universe.

Furthermoreorless, the oil does not belong to you or anyone else unable to prevent us yanks from stealing it from you. Probably murdering you in the process before we rape your women and children.

Don't be so selfish as to deny us our inherent righteousness of purpose.

Jun 29, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jun 30, 2018
ZB, I realize that you are gullible enough to parrot the mendacious gibberish from woo-sites. I hope you didn't spend your rent money on the Brass Spirit Horn or the Odyllic Detector. Good luck getting those bunco artists to accept the return charges when you send back that Orgone Box.

Google or whichever search engine you are using "ultraviolet,influenza".

Then you can realize what an utterly twaddling load of crap of which your comment consists.

That "seeping" you mentioned? Is your bank account into the pockets of frauds and scam artists. That rapping you hear? Is not spirits from the aetheral realm to guide you. But rather bill collectors knocking on your door, demanding payment for your latest act of infatuated fatuousness.

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