Astronomers Finally Found the Universe’s First Type of Molecule

Scientists finally detect helium hydride, a combination of helium and hydrogen, thought to be the first molecule to form in the universe.

Happy Hunting

Based on scientists’ calculations, the first molecule to ever form from stray atoms in the universe was likely helium hydride, a combination of helium and hydrogen.

For decades, physicists have hunted the universe for the elusive molecule. And now an international team of researchers say they’ve finally found it — thereby confirming the presumed first step in the universe’s chemistry.

No Doubt

In a study published in the journal Nature Wednesday, the researchers describe how they used NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the world’s largest airborne observatory, to detect helium hydride in a planetary nebula about 3,000 light-years away from Earth.

“It was so exciting to be there, seeing helium hydride for the first time in the data,” researcher Rolf Guesten said in a news release. “This brings a long search to a happy ending and eliminates doubts about our understanding of the underlying chemistry of the early universe.”

READ MORE: The Universe’s First Type of Molecule Is Found at Last [NASA]

More on the early universe: Scientists Now Know When the First Stars Formed in the Universe

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Astronomers Finally Found the Universe’s First Type of Molecule

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