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A trio of chemists at the University of Arizona, with an affiliation to the University of Arizona's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory has discovered phosphorous in the outskirts of the Milky Way galaxy for the first time. In their project, reported in the journal Nature, Lilia Koelemay, Karlie Gold and Lucy Ziurys studied the gas cloud WB89-621.
Prior research has shown that phosphorous exists near the sun and also other inner parts of the Milky Way galaxy, but until now, it had not been observed in its outer parts. Prior findings have not been surprising, as other research has shown that phosphorous is created when silicon atoms in stars (such as the sun) bond with neutrons. Such stellar nucleosynthesis is believed to be responsible for observed phosphorous.
It also seemingly has explained why phosphorous has not been found farther way from the sun—there would be no plausible way for it to get there. In this new effort, the researchers were studying the chemical makeup of gas cloud WB89-621, which is situated near the outer edges of the Milky Way, when they found something unexpected.