New type of chemical bonding in the shining parts of universe

Scientists found new type of chemical reaction at molecular level that is thought to change the views about chemical compound formation.

This research has been published online in the July 20th issue of the journal Science.

“We discovered a new type of chemical bonding,” University of North Dakota’s computational chemist Mark Hoffmann, who is known for his work on theory and computational modeling of chemical compound synthesis, said in a statement. “That’s a pretty bold statement, but I’m not kidding you! It’s a brand new type of chemical bonding, not previously known to science.”

Sirius A - the brightest star in the night sky - and Sirius B in the lower left side - closest white dwarf to us (Credit: NASA/ESA/H. Bond (STScl)/M. Barstow (University of Leicester))

This new type of chemical reaction is also thought to explain the processes taking place in some of the celestial bodies such as white dwarfs, which are small extremely dense stars in the final stages of their evolution, and the formation and death of stars.

“Our discovery addresses one of the mysteries in astrophysics about the spectrum of white dwarf stars,” Hoffmann said. “White dwarfs have an unusual spectrum that has been thought to result from polymerized hydrogen and helium which, of course, do not occur on Earth.

“It’s possible out there because the magnetic fields on white dwarfs are several orders of magnitude larger than anything that can be generated on Earth.”

In this discovery, Hoffmann and collaborators have found a magnetically induced bonding process between materials i.e. “perpendicular paramagnetic bonding”. This bonding process is “generated by the stabilization of antibonding orbitals in their perpendicular orientation relative to an external magnetic field.”

Magnetic field on the dwarf stars is very much high that could result in changing the way through which the atoms join together and resulting in altered chemical reality to that on Earth. (For comparison, Tesla is a unit of magnetic field and refrigerator magnets have one thousandth of Tesla and the maximum Tesla generated on Earth is 1000 but Sirius B has 200,000 to 400,000 Tesla of magnetic fields).

“What we had before we discovered this was basically a paper-and-pencil model of what goes on in the universe. Compared to what’s out there in places such as white dwarf stars, the magnetic fields we can generate here — even with the strongest magnets — are pathetic.”

So how did they do it?

“We computationally modeled the behavior that we theorized, based on universally applicable physical principles,” Hoffmann said.

The computer model presented by the team is according to their theory and now astrophysicists have to check the model by the conventional observation of stars.


Lange, K., Tellgren, E., Hoffmann, M., & Helgaker, T. (2012). A Paramagnetic Bonding Mechanism for Diatomics in Strong Magnetic Fields Science, 337 (6092), 327-331 DOI: 10.1126/science.1219703

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