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'Wasteful' Galaxies Emit Heavy Elements into Deep Space

Jun 07, 2016 08:19 PM EDT

A new study reveals that galaxies are emitting heavy elements and ejecting them to its surrounding halos and deep space reaching million light years away.

The study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Based on the study, oxygen, carbon and iron atoms tend to exist in gaseous halos outside the galaxies instead of within them. Once they are emitted, these building blocks of stars become wastes.

"Previously, we thought that these heavier elements would be recycled into future generations of stars and contribute to building planetary systems," said Benjamin Oppenheimer, a research associate in the Center for Astrophysics & Space Astronomy (CASA) in a press release. "As it turns out, galaxies aren't very good at recycling," Oppenheimer added.

The reservoir of rich gasses which when they accumulate is known as Circumgalactic Medium (CGM). It is believed to be important in building blocks in the galaxies, but the exact process is not clear to men yet. 

To arrive at their findings, the researchers used the data from the Cosmic Origin Spectrograph (COS) installed on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope which is using ultraviolet spectroscopy. Simulations were used to help the researchers understand how the galaxies are emitting and wasting heavy metal materials into space millions of light years away.

"The remarkable similarity of the galaxies in our simulations to those targeted by the COS team enables us to interpret the observations with greater confidence," said Robert Crain, co-author of the study in an interview with Room, The Space Journal.

Although the wasting of heavy metal occurs, the violent process of emitting heavy metals into the CGM takes a long time to happen, it can event take 10 billion years.

Further analysis and scrutiny have to be employed to further understand if these heavy metal emitted in space actually turns into waste or it the universe benefits from them in one way or another.


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