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Scientists Find Actual Source of Stars’ Mysterious Microwaves

A mysterious “glow” that come from space has been traced to tiny spinning diamonds that swirl around newly-born stars.

For more than 20 years, astronomers have been able to see a faint signal of microwave light coming from parts of the night sky.

Now, after years of speculation about this unusual glow, a team led by Dr Jane Greaves at Cardiff University has finally pinpointed its source.

“In a Sherlock Holmes-like method of eliminating all other causes, we can confidently say the best candidate capable of producing this microwave glow is the presence of nanodiamonds around these newly formed stars,” said Dr Greaves.

The diamond dust motes are only a millionth of a millimetre spacious and so light that when they bump into each other they rotate fast enough to emit microwaves which spread out across the universe, the scientists report in Nature Astronomy.

As they spin so exceptionally fast, the waves of radiation they emit are small – microwave sized – rather than larger wavelengths that would likely be drowned out by other sources of radiation from space.

Co-author Dr Anna Scaife from the University of Manchester agreed their discovery was “an exciting result”.

“It’s not often you find yourself putting new words to famous tunes, but ‘AME in the Sky with Diamonds’ seems a thoughtful way of summarising our research,” she said.

> Shiuly Rina



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