Scientists Discover Molecular Oxygen Outside Milky Way Galaxy For The First Time


Junzhi Wang, an astronomer at Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China, and his colleagues detected molecular oxygen in a galaxy 560 million light-years away.

Written By Zaini Majeed | Mumbai | Updated On:

Astronomers have reportedly detected molecular oxygen over half a billion light-years away, which is the third such detection ever outside the Solar System, and the first outside the Milky Way. According to the reports, molecular oxygen was detected near Ursa Major constellation.

Scientists speculated that intense radiations from stars shocked the water ice into sublimation, splitting the molecules releasing the oxygen, confirmed reports. Astronomers used millimetre astronomy and detected radio wavelengths of 2.52 millimeters emitted by the oxygen molecules. It further suggested that the spectrum to look for those wavelengths absorbed or emitted by specific molecules of oxygen was created using spectroscopy.

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Junzhi Wang, an astronomer at Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China, and his colleagues reportedly detected the molecules in a galaxy 560 million light-years away named Markarian 231. Reports suggest that Markarian 231 is the nearest galaxy to Earth that contains a quasar, in which the gases whirls around a supermassive black hole.

Most molecular oxygen ever discovered

The astronomers had earlier made a similar discovery between two star-forming clouds within Milky Way, namely Orion Nebula and Rho Ophiuchi cloud, as per reports. The molecular oxygen in these galactic bodies was, however, rare. Scientists claimed that there was a shortage of interstellar O2 due to water molecules and oxygen atoms freezing onto dust grains. This makes the recent finding groundbreaking as most molecular oxygen ever has been discovered outside the solar system for the first time.

Last week, the astronomers had observed ‘strange’ movements of toxic gas clouds in the Milky Way galaxy that hinted towards the existence of the rare supermassive black hole 100,000 times larger in size than the Sun. It was the fifth such candidate in the galactic centre, confirmed reports. The newly released observations about the swirling gas clouds around a black hole increased the [possiblity for scientists to study black holes closely and figure how they were formed.

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