Astronomers found molecular oxygen in space
In space, oxygen is found in abundance in the form of single atoms which are built-in with the molecules of other elements. But, this is the first time that the oxygen which we inhale is found in space. With the help of Herschel space telescope, scientists found the molecular oxygen in the region where the ‘constellation of Orion’ forms.
After hydrogen and helium, oxygen is the third most abundant element found in space, but the form of oxygen which is discovered now had never been seen in the space. The form of oxygen which is present on Earth is a double bond joint of two atoms and because of that life is possible on Earth.
In 2007, an effort was made by the scientists with the help of Swedish Odin telescope to find molecular oxygen in space and in the report published in journal named 'Astronomy and Astrophysics', the scientists claimed the discovery of molecular oxygen in the star-forming region. However, their discovery was not independently confirmed at that time.
How molecular oxygen was found?
The team which discovered the molecular oxygen chose a star forming region in Orion constellation. The team of scientists believed that the oxygen would be ‘backed off’ because of the ice and dust which is present in that warmer and more turbulent part of space.
After spotting the area, scientists used instruments of Herschel telescope which picked the small mark of molecular oxygen from there, as they are sensitive to infrared light.
Paul Goldsmith, principal investigator on the Herschel Oxygen Project said, “This explains where some of the oxygen might be hiding. But we didn't find large amounts of it, and still don't understand what is so special about the spots where we find it. The Universe still holds many secrets.”