Iron, along with hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, can be found in a substantial quantity in the universe. While on our planet iron is located in a more solidified form, interstellar iron is mostly gaseous as structure. Iron is one of the most common chemical element on Earth, being a compound of Earth’s outer and inner core. It is among the top element that can be found in the Earth’s crust.
Pseudocarbynes and iron
Astronomers have found traces of iron in space; it had a gaseous structure. But they did not find a lot of it, provided that it is such a common element, be it in a molecular of solid-state. Not until now, at least.
Researchers at the Arizona State University, in collaboration with the W.M. Keck Foundation, claim that they succeeded in shedding light on the mystery.
Their study, printed in the Astrophysical Journal, showed that interstellar iron is hiding in plain view, so it is not absent. They further explain that the iron molecules has fused with those of carbon – the molecular chains resulted are named iron pseudocarbynes. The reason they were not discovered earlier is that they are almost similar to the chains of carbon molecules which can be found in space in a significant amount.
Interstellar iron is there, in the universe
The team of cosmochemists analyzed the way iron, in atomic form, can join carbon molecules to create new particles. This discovery, together with data obtained from cosmic dust and meteorites, pins down the presence of batches of iron atoms in space.
Because of the shallow temperatures in space, the iron molecules can combine with the carbon chain molecules. They concluded that it is easy for astrophysicists not to notice them.
This study comes as a solution to other unsolved dilemmas, such as carbon chains that contain more than nine atoms (previously thought as being unstable) can be found in space and are as stable as they can be. The interstellar iron particles might be the answer.