The universe is vast, and there are countless mysteries waiting for us to solve. For example, how was chemistry born after the big bang? The universe is composed of matter, and the formation of these substances is inseparable from chemical reactions. So what is the earliest chemical reaction product in the early universe?
A few decades ago, some scientists proposed that heh + is the first chemical reaction product in the universe, but scientists have been unable to confirm that the substance exists in the cosmic environment. In the latest Nature magazine, scientists detected heh + from the planetary nebula NGC 7027, which is the first time that this kind of ion has been detected in the universe. Scientists say it may be the strongest acid in the universe.
We often discuss the question of chicken or egg first. Until now, there is no definite answer. On the scientific road of exploring the mysteries of the universe, there is also a puzzle for scientists, that is, protein or nucleic acid (genetic material)? The answer to this question can only be found from the perspective of evolutionism.
In the periodic table of elements, hydrogen and helium rank first and second, respectively. It can be seen that these two elements are the real leader and second in all the elements in the universe. However, scientists have always been controversial about the ranking and status of hydrogen and helium. Which of them first appeared in the early universe has always been a controversial topic in the scientific community.
Why is it so important who comes first, hydrogen or helium? Because this may reveal many unsolved mysteries in the universe. At present, the scientific community divides this topic into two parts. For hydrogen and helium nuclei, there was a stage of “protonuclear synthesis” in the early days of the big bang. At this stage, hydrogen nuclei are produced first, and then helium nuclei are produced.
According to the characteristics of radiation in the early universe, it can be calculated that the hydrogen nucleus (proton) was formed one second after the big bang. The helium nucleus began to form three minutes after the big bang. Therefore, hydrogen nuclei appear earlier than helium nuclei. We know that the position of an element is determined by the position of the nucleus, so in this sense, hydrogen precedes helium.
But what scientists didn’t expect was that in the early days of the big bang, the formation of helium was earlier than that of hydrogen. I believe many friends know that the formation of an atom requires not only the nucleus, but also the combination of electrons to form an atom. According to the truth, the hydrogen nucleus appeared earlier than the helium nucleus, so the hydrogen atom should also appear earlier than the helium atom, but the fact is the opposite. What’s the matter?
As we all know, the universe has been expanding since the big bang. The more astronomical phenomena in the early universe, the more easily its corresponding spectral wavelength is elongated by the expansion of the universe, resulting in the so-called “red shift” phenomenon. So if we know the “red shift”, we will know the “time” in the sense of cosmology. Cosmologists often use the red shift to mark time. For example, 380000 years after the birth of the universe, photons began to become free, and finally formed the cosmic microwave background radiation seen today. 380000 years after the birth of the universe, according to cosmologists, it was 1100 years ago.
The larger the redshift is, the longer it is, and the older it is. The red shift of the spectrum of helium is larger than that of hydrogen, which is the first atom in the universe. We have hydrogen and helium, which is equivalent to the matter in the universe. With these materials, there will be chemical reaction between them. What will be the product of the first chemical reaction?
Some scientists have proposed that neutral helium atoms combine with protons to form helium hydrogen ion (heh +). This is the first chemical reaction product in the early universe. Heh + looks very simple. It is formed by combining one helium atom with one proton. It’s called a molecular ion – because it looks like a molecule, but it’s actually an ion. But scientists believe that heh + appeared in the universe earlier than hydrogen, so it is theoretically the first molecular ion in the universe.
Although scientists have proposed heh + for a long time and synthesized this kind of molecular ion in the experimental laboratory, scientists have never found any trace of heh + in the universe, so does this matter not exist in the universe? After more than 100 years of exploration and research, scientists finally made a major breakthrough on April 17, 2019.
The high resolution green spectrometer of the stratospheric infrared Observatory (Sofia), a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center, detected the infrared emitted by heh +. The results were published in the journal Nature.
Although heh + has been found in the universe, the heh + discovered in this exploration is not from the early universe, because the NGC 7027 nebula of heh + is only 3000 light-years away from our earth, which is a very close distance in the cosmological sense, and it is not from the early universe. However, this is still exciting good news for the scientific community. It confirms the existence of heh + in the universe and provides confidence for scientists to find heh + in the early universe.
Maybe a lot of people want to know what kind of substance heh + is? Because heh + is made up of helium atoms and protons, and protons are completely exposed in this structure, heh + can combine with the electrons in any matter molecule that collides with it, which makes it show great acidity. Scientists speculate that this may be the strongest acid in the universe.
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