Noble Gas Molecule Found in Crab Nebula–a First in Space

by Rachel Baker on December 16, 2013

We’ve finally gotten to a place in our technological advances where we can shed our arrogance and truly begin to imagine what really might be out in space. Just because we couldn’t find something before in its natural environment, doesn’t mean our laboratories are the only places something exists…just saying.

The Crab Nebula has a noble gas molecule, researchers said this week, noting that the find is startling because it has been assumed noble gas molecules don’t occur in space. The Crab Nebula is the remnants of a star that exploded 1,000 years ago.

Researchers, who made the find with Europe’s Herschel Space Observatory, said the molecule was argon hydride. A press release from Cardiff University said that before this “discovery, molecules of this kind have only been studied in laboratories on Earth.”

Noble gases–including helium, argon, radon, and krypton–don’t react easily with other chemical elements, and are mostly found on by themselves, rarely forming molecules.

The university said that the gases can form molecules with other elements if certain circumstances permit. However, these chemical compounds are only found in laboratories on Earth.

In the past scientists, have assumed that the molecules don’t occur in space.

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