Cosmic Lithium in the Early Universe

Cosmic Lithium in the Early Universe

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Astrophysicists have explored a discrepancy between the amount of lithium predicted by the standard models of elemental production during the Big Bang and the amount of lithium observed in the gas of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy near to our own. J. Christopher Howk, Nicolas Lehner and Grant Mathews of the Center for Astrophysics at the University of Notre Dame published a paper in the journal Nature titled “Observation of interstellar lithium in the low-metallicity Small Magellanic Cloud.”

“The paper involves measuring the amount of lithium in the interstellar gas of a nearby galaxy, but it may have implications for fundamental physics, in that it could imply the presence of dark matter particles in the early universe that decay or annihilate one another,” Howk says. “This may be a probe of physics in the early universe that gives us a handle on new physics we don’t have another way to get a handle on right now.”

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