As galaxies age, some of their basic chemical elements can show signs of aging. It has been observed that certain atoms put on a little weight and eventually transform into heavier isotopes. These heavier isotopes carry additional neutrons in their nuclei.
Surprisingly, there has been no such aging trend observed in the element silicon. The surveys have recently been undertaken by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia. Silicon is considered to be the fundamental building block of the rocks of our Solar System. These non-aging signs in silicon suggest that the Milky Way is more efficient at mixing its elements than what the researchers previously thought.
The first generation stars comprise of Silicon 28- an isotope with 14 protons and 14 neutrons in its nucleus. Over the years, later generations of stars create heavier silicon 29 and 30 isotopes. When these later generation stars explode in the form of Supernova, they alter the chemical profile of the galaxy very subtly.
“There is still a very lot that we do not understand about the galaxy. It is possible that further studies with the GBT will explore and discover a bit more about the Milky Way.”, says Ed Young, senior researcher at the University of California.