This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Hydrogen peroxide found in space

Thanks to Brian for the link

alt text
The Rho Ophiuchi star formation region, about 400 light-years from Earth, contains very dense clouds of cosmic gas and dust. Hydrogen peroxide molecules were found in the area marked with the red circle. S. Guisard/European Southern Observatory

Hydrogen peroxide has been detected for the first time in interstellar space, offering hints about the origin of water, a similar molecule.

The chemical signature of hydrogen peroxide molecules, which consist of two oxygen atoms bookended by two hydrogen atoms, was detected in dense clouds of cosmic gas and dust in a distant part of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, reported the study published Wednesday in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The light signals were captured by the European Southern Observatory's Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX) in the Chilean Andes.

But the chemical best known on Earth as an antiseptic, rocket fuel and bleach isn't likely to give interstellar tourists blond highlights in their hair, even if they somehow manage to make the 400 light-year journey from Earth.

"The amount of hydrogen peroxide in the cloud is just one molecule for every 10 billion hydrogen molecules, so the detection required very careful observations," said Per Bergman, lead author of the study, in a statement. Bergman is an astronomer at Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden.

The discovery is exciting for astronomers because water can be produced when hydrogen peroxide reacts with hydrogen under the right conditions. A lot of the water on Earth is believed to have originally formed in space, but scientists aren't sure how.

Read on

TAGGED: CHEMISTRY, SCIENCE, SPACE


RELATED CONTENT

Nasa's Curiosity rover zaps Mars rock

Jonathan Amos - BBC News Comments

Pew pew pew pew

Sun Is Roundest Natural Object Known

Dave Mosher - National Geographic Comments

The sun is the roundest natural object ever precisely measured, astronomers say.

Astrophysicists simulate 14 billion...

Liat Clark - Wired.co.uk Comments

Astrophysicists simulate 14 billion years of cosmic evolution in high resolution

Mars rover searching for signs of life

Lawrence Krauss - CNN Comments

Author and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, discusses what it would be like if we found life on another planet.

'Plate Tectonics' Discovered on...

- - The Daily Galaxy Comments

Mars Science Laboratory Touches Down...

Sean Carroll - Cosmic Variance -... Comments

Launched on November 26, 2011, the mission is scheduled to land on Mars’s Gale Crater tonight/tomorrow morning: 5:31 UTC, which translates to 1:30 a.m. Eastern time or 10:20 p.m. Pacific.

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment