Helium hydride:The first molecule of the universe


The first type of molecule that ever formed in the universe has been detected for the first time. After decades of searching for this molecule, Finally our scientists discovered it's presence in our own galaxy.

Formation of this molecule:

Our universe was born with the all time greatest event - The Big Bang. During the beginning of this universe, the temperature and density was high enough to rip a part of the atoms, but after a couple of minutes, there were only helium atoms and everything else was ionized due to the high energy photons around the whole universe.

after a long period of time, the universe began to expand and cool. Researchers believed that around 14 billion years after the big bang, Helium and hydrogen atoms combined together to form the first molecule of  the universe. But the strangest thing was that we had not detected it until 2018 and recently we discovered it's existence.

The story behind it's discovery:

Scientists discovered it's presence in our galaxy in a planetary nebula called NGC 7027, located in the constellation cygnes, which is located around 3000 light years away from the earth.
NASA used the world's largest airborne observatory, SOFIA which stands for Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, to detect the molecule. 

In the late 1970s, Scientists predicted the first molecule or helium hydride in NGC 7027(planetary nebula) because the conditions were very similar to that time of the universe, where helium hydride used to exist.In 2016, scientists flew SOFIA up to 45,000 feet and it recorded some observations and came back to ground.In 2019, the sofia again flew up with some upgrades in it's instrument called GREAT - German REceiver At Terahertz frequencies. After these upgrades, the instrument worked like a radio receiver. Scientists tuned it to the frequency of the molecule, they were searching for. When SOFIA flew up to the sky avoiding all the signal receiving problems (like water vapours,clouds & others which absorbs infrared signals)and gives us a clear message of the very first molecule helium hydride.


This confirms a key part of our basic understanding of the early universe and how it might have evolved over billions of years into the complex chemistry of today. Today our universe accommodates a number of sophisticated astronomical bodies like enormous suns, weird planets, terrifying black holes and many more but their formation had started from atoms and molecules and today we have got the evidence of the very first molecule made by our universe for us. 

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