Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Graphite Whiskers, Rather Than Dark Energy, Could Explain Dimness Of Stellar Explosions

Date:
February 29, 2008
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Interstellar space may be strewn with tiny whiskers of carbon, dimming the light of far-away objects. This discovery may have implications for the "dark energy" hypothesis, proposed a decade ago in part to explain the unexpected dimness of certain stellar explosions called Type 1a supernovae.

Interstellar space may be strewn with tiny whiskers of carbon, dimming the light of far-away objects. This discovery by scientists at the Carnegie Institution may have implications for the "dark energy" hypothesis, proposed a decade ago in part to explain the unexpected dimness of certain stellar explosions called Type1a supernovae.

Type1a supernovae are among the brightest objects in the universe. Astronomers use them as "standard candles" to gauge cosmological distances: brighter-appearing supernovae are closer, dimmer ones are farther away. In the late 1990s some astronomers noticed that some seemed too dim--too far away--to be explained by conventional theories of the universe's expansion. This led to the hypothesis that the expansion was accelerating, pushed along by an unknown form of energy -- dark energy.

In the current study, published in the February 29 issue of Science, Andrew Steele and Marc Fries of the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory report the discovery of an unusual new form of carbon in minerals within meteorites dating from the formation of the solar system. These "graphite whiskers" were likely produced from carbon-rich gas at high temperatures and were found within features called calcium-aluminum inclusions, which at around 4.5 billion years old are the oldest known solids in our solar system.

"During this time when the sun was young, the solar wind was very strong," says Fries. "So graphite whiskers formed near the sun could have been blown into interstellar space. The same thing may have happened around other young stars as well."

Graphite whiskers might also be produced and dispersed into space by supernovae explosions.

A thin interstellar haze of graphite whiskers spewed from stars and supernovae would affect how different wavelengths of light pass through space. It has been postulated that wavelengths in the near infrared would be particularly affected. It is the dimming of light from Type 1a supernovae at these wavelengths that first led researchers to think that the universe's expansion was accelerating and that therefore a hitherto unknown force "dark energy"must exist. However, since the 1970s it has been postulated that graphite or other whisker-like materials could explain the observations. The presence of graphite whiskers in space has never been confirmed until this study.

With the discovery of graphite whiskers in the meteorite, researchers can test their properties against the cosmological models and astronomical observations.

"If graphite whiskers in space are absorbing supernovae's light," says Steele, "then this could affect measurements of the rate of the universe's expansion. While we cannot comment further on the effects of whiskers on the dark energy hypothesis it is important to study the characteristics of this form of carbon carefully so we can understand its impact on dark energy models. We'll then feed this data forward to the upcoming NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) missions that will look for the effects of dark energy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Graphite Whiskers, Rather Than Dark Energy, Could Explain Dimness Of Stellar Explosions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228143538.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2008, February 29). Graphite Whiskers, Rather Than Dark Energy, Could Explain Dimness Of Stellar Explosions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228143538.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Graphite Whiskers, Rather Than Dark Energy, Could Explain Dimness Of Stellar Explosions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228143538.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Baby Moon 'Peggy' Spotted In Saturn's Rings

New Baby Moon 'Peggy' Spotted In Saturn's Rings

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A bump in the rings could be a half-mile-wide miniature moon. It was found by accident in Cassini probe images. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Americas Glimpse Total Lunar Eclipse

Americas Glimpse Total Lunar Eclipse

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) A total lunar eclipse, the first since December 2011, took place early Tuesday morning with the Americas getting the best glimpse. Duration: 1:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse

NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse

AP (Apr. 15, 2014) Star gazers in parts of North and South America got a rare treat early Tuesday morning - a total eclipse of the moon. (April 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacecrafts Could Use Urine As Fuel Source

Spacecrafts Could Use Urine As Fuel Source

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) New research says the urea from urine could be recycled for fuel. Urea is filtered out of wastewater when making drinking water. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins