It has been a speculation since the 1970’s and now the lithium riddle inches closer to an answer due to star explosions. The mystery has been around for the better part of four decades since astronomers began asking why young stars seem to have such a great amount of lithium and had since looked to novae as an answer.
With the help of the two telescopes La Silla’s MPG/ESO telescope and the ESO telescope, astronomers have gained definitive proof of the presence of lithium in young stars along with the possible explanation for the rise of lithium in our galaxy.
Younger stars tend to carry ten times more quantities of lithium than older stars, which has left many astronomers puzzled because the newer models did not seem to fit with the ones left over by the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. However, at the Observatory of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, they have recently observed a small quantity of the light metal in Nova Centauri, the brightest nova of our century which exploded visibly in December 2013. The sight left many watchers in awe while observing the explosion with the naked eye.
The discovery could be the first step in solving the long standing lithium riddle. Nova Centauri expelled a relatively small amount of the light substance into the galaxy, approximately one billionth of the mass of the sun, but there have also been billions of stellar explosions in the history of the Milky Way.
With each one, more and more quantities of lithium were being expelled into the galaxy, though it still leaves the question of why there are so many young stars. The fusion reactions in their cores requires the consumption of lithium and does not create it, so it remains unknown why the chemical is even present within a nova.
It is very exciting news for astronomers to find a new substance that adds to the galaxy medium during our exploration of outer space. Along with new technology, further and deeper observations can be noted that will bring us closer to proper understanding of the birth and death of stars within our galaxy.
However, the mysteries and puzzling processes may still be too many and it will take astronomers and scientists a long time until a majority of them will be solved. And even then, with every birth of a new star, more questions might be raised.
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