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According to a new study which the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society recently published, there is enough greasy matter in the Milky Way to make about 40 trillion trillion trillion packs of butter. The team of Australian and Turkish astronomers which conducted the study discovered that there are 100 greasy carbon atoms for every million hydrogen atoms in the entire Universe. According to them, the so-called space grease is not only toxic, but also dirty and only forms in the interstellar space and inside a laboratory. It’s also very interesting that such an important organic material is so abundant in the Universe.
Tim Schmidt, one of the authors of the study, says that their team wanted to discover just how much greasy carbon exists in the Universe. So, in order to do this, they recreated interstellar dust in their laboratory. They copied the entire natural process through which stars make organic molecules by expanding a plasma that contains carbon into a vacuum at very low temperatures. Then, they were able to analyze how strongly the dust absorbed the light by using a certain wavelength. That indicated the amount of aliphatic carbon.
There is a lot of space grease all over the Universe
According to Schmidt, the next step was to combine the results that they got with certain observations from astronomical observatories. This process allowed the team to measure just how much aliphatic carbon there is between us and the stars in the Universe.
It seems that this greasy and toxic carbon represents between a quarter and a half of the entire carbon that exists in the Universe. Now, the team wants to discover how much aromatic, or mothball-like carbon there is. Knowing how much of these two types of carbon there is in space, experts might be able to figure out the entire quantity of this element in the Universe.
Image source: Wikimedia