Nanodiamond dust explains Milky Way's mysterious microwaves, study says
Scientists have discovered a potential source of the Milky Way's mysterious anomalous microwave emissions.

Tyler MacDonald | 4 hours ago

After puzzling over the source of the the mysterious microwavesalso known as anomalous microwave emission (AME)emanating from numerous regions in the Milky Way, a new study suggests the cause: nanodiamond dust.

"Though we know that some type of particle is responsible for this microwave light, its precise source has been a puzzle since it was first detected nearly 20 years ago," said Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University in Wales and lead author on the current paper.

Through a series of observations using thehe National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia and the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), the team discovered three clear sources of the AME in the form of protoplanetary disks surrounding the starsHD 97048, 892 Tau, and MWC 297.

"This is the first clear detection of anomalous microwave emission coming from protoplanetary disks," said David Frayer, a coauthor on the paper.

And the infrared light coming from these systems matches the unique signature of those in nanodiamonds

"This is good news for those who study polarization of the cosmic microwave background, since the signal from spinning nanodiamonds would be weakly polarized at best," said Brian Mason, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and another coauthor on the paper. "This means that astronomers can now make better models of the foreground microwave light from our galaxy, which must be removed to study the distant afterglow of the Big Bang."

The findings were published in Nature Astronomy.

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