Astronomers first discovered oxygen outside our galaxy

In the course of space exploration over the centuries, scientists have suggested that there may be oxygen necessary for life in unearthly galaxies. But no one has succeeded in finding it so far. The new discovery of the staff of the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory finally confirms the long-standing theory.

In the terrestrial biosphere, oxygen is recognized as the most common chemical element. So, our planet is approximately half composed of oxygen. In the Universe, it gives way to the first positions in hydrogen and helium. Despite such a high prevalence, astronomers were not able to detect its presence outside our galaxy.

Scientist Junzhi Wang and his colleague from the Shanghai Astronomical Laboratory still managed to find oxygen in the galaxy Markaryan 231, located 580 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major. The study used NOEMA and IRAM 30m radio telescopes, which helped to first detect molecular oxygen outside the Milky Way.

Scientists suggest that most of the oxygen in the universe is in the form of ice. However, in the active region of the Markaryan 231 galaxy, this chemical element is released and forms molecules. Previously, molecular oxygen was detected only within the Galaxy in which the Earth is located: in the Cloud of Rho Ophiuchus and near the Orion Nebula.

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