Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY … A team of researchers led by Hofstra University Professor Donald Lubowich recently discovered a significant amount of deuterium (heavy hydrogen) raining into the center of our Milky Way Galaxy (distance from the Earth is 2 billion times the distance of the Earth to the sun). The abundance of deuterium provides important insights into the formation of the Milky Way and confirms that deuterium is not made by stars or stellar activity (stars convert deuterium into helium). Thus, the deuterium they have detected in the Milky Way was created in the first few minutes after the Big Bang. These results also imply that the Milky Way Galaxy has not had an explosive event like a quasar since the birth of the Solar System.

Professor Lubowich (also of the American Institute of Physics) began this study in collaboration with Prof. Jay M. Pasachoff of Williams College. Their team includes Professors Thomas J. Balonek (Colgate University), and Tom Millar (University of Manchester, UK) and joined by students Ann Mancuso (Hofstra), Christy Tremonti (Colgate University ), Robert P. Galloway (Williams), and Helen Roberts (University of Manchester, UK). The researchers used the 40-foot radiotelescope (similar to a large satellite dish) at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory outside Tucson, AZ, to determine the abundance of deuterium from microwave observations of a molecule containing one atom of deuterium, carbon and nitrogen (DCM). The existence of deuterium in the galactic center had been suggested by Nobel Prize winner Arno Penzias. (photo of the telescope may be viewed at http://www.tuc.nrao.edu/12meter.html)