Tuesday, Oct 25th

Last update05:20:13 AM GMT

You are here News Science Oxygen molecules discovered in space for the very first time

Oxygen molecules discovered in space for the very first time

oxygen molecules discovered in outer spaceWe've discovered evidence of just about every gas imaginable out in space, but one we'd never seen was molecular oxygen, the stuff we breathe everyday. Now, thanks to powerful infrared telescopes, we've found the very first traces of space oxygen.

While individual oxygen atoms are found throughout space, that's not what we breathe. Instead, we inhale O2, which is a molecule composed of two oxygen atoms bonded together. This particular gas is very common on Earth - it accounts for about 20% of the air around us - but we had never found molecular oxygen in space... until now.

The key to the gas's discovery was the Herschel Space Observatory, which is tasked with exploring the infrared wavelengths of the universe. This allows it to see the coldest and dustiest parts of the cosmos. In the case of molecular oxygen, that's a very good thing, as researchers believe the gas was locked up in the frozen water ice that surrounds tiny dust grains.

The telescope then detected the oxygen gas in the vicinity of the Orion Nebula, where it's thought that starlight was able to first warm up the ice and then break it into its constituent atoms. The now-free oxygen atoms were then combined into molecular gas. NASA researchers still believe that this molecular oxygen is abundant in the universe, even if the evidence for it remains strangely lacking. Now that we have some idea where to look, though, it may be easier to find more.


Most Recent Related Stories...

European spacecraft goes silent minute before difficult Mars landing

European space craft goes silentThe “Mars Curse” may have claimed another victim.Europe’s Schiaparelli lander, scheduled to settle into the Martian...

The ExoMars Spacecraft Approaches the Red Planet

ExoMars SpacecraftThe European-Russian ExoMars spacecraft will release a lander onSunday. Both spacecraft and lander will arrive at...

Scientists discover physical source of depression

physical source of depression discoveredAn international research team says they have identified the physical source of depression in the brain...

The Universe has two trillion more galaxies than astronomers thought

universe has two million more galaxiesThere are a dizzying two trillion galaxies in the Universe, up to 20 times more than...
America's # 1 Enemy
Tee Shirt
& Help Support!
TVNL Tee Shirt
Conserve our Planet
& Help Support!
Get your 9/11 & Media
Deception Dollars
& Help Support!
The Loaded Deck
The First & the Best!
The Media & Bush Admin Exposed!