Mysterious phosphorus discovered beyond the outskirts of the galaxy

Scientists at the University of Arizona have discovered phosphorus of mysterious origin beyond the outskirts of the Milky Way galaxy. About the opening reported in an article published in the journal Nature.

Previous studies have shown that phosphorus exists in the vicinity of the Sun and other inner regions of the galaxy, but the element has not yet been observed in the outer parts of the galaxy. Phosphorus was shown to be formed when silicon atoms in stars bond with neutrons, which also explained why the element was not found far from stars.

Astronomers have studied the chemical composition of the gas cloud WB89-621, which is located near the outer edges of the Milky Way. They noticed lines in the cloud’s rotational spectrum that indicated the presence of phosphorus. Since supernovae are not present in the outer regions, scientists suspect that there is another, as yet unknown source of the chemical.

Two possible scenarios were rejected. One of them is that supernova material moves into the outer regions due to circumgalactic effects, generating so-called galactic fountains. However, clouds formed in this way do not occur in the Milky Way at too great distances from the center (about 22.6 kiloparsecs or 73 thousand light years).

Another possibility could be a contribution from an extragalactic source, such as the Magellanic Clouds. However, this is also implausible, since such sources rarely contain sufficient amounts of the heavy elements necessary for phosphorus synthesis. Therefore, further research will be required to identify the source.

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