In a stunning revelation, astronomers have detected a radioactive molecule, believed to be spilled from a stellar explosion that occurred in the 17th century.
The radioactive molecule was spotted with the Northern Extended Millimetre Array (NOEMA) and the Atacama Large Millimetre/tarubmillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescopes, the rare cosmic event was apparently ejected into space by the collision of two Sun-like stars.
The rare event, which results in a striking explosion and the formation of a new star was last seen from Earth in 1670.
The molecule – an isotope of aluminium monofluoride requires extremely powerful telescopes to witness what remains as it spins around 2,000 light years from the Earth.
An international squad of scientists discovered the signature of a radioactive version of aluminium while studying the residue of the explosion.
This marks the first molecule bearing a radioisotope outside our Solar System, according to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
“The first solid detection of this kind of radioactive molecule is an important milestone in our exploration of the cool molecular universe,” lead study author Tomasz Kamiński, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a statement.
The revelation is also important in the broader context of the galactic evolution of chemical. And it took only 347 years to find it out.
However, this is nothing short of a breakthrough.
“We are observing the guts of a star torn apart three centuries ago by a collision,” Kamiński added. “How cool is that?”