I’d say some “other” form of intelligent life, but I’m feeling a bit of the cynic today. Here’s the really cool news.
Astronomers can finally breathe a sigh of relief: A team of scientists has discovered the first oxygen molecules in deep space, capping a nearly 230-year search for the elusive cosmic molecule.
The oxygen molecules were detected in a star-forming region of the Orion nebula, roughly 1,500 light-years from Earth, by the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory. The observatory used its large telescope and infrared detectors to hone in on the species, which is thought to be common in the cosmos, but has so far been hard to find.
Individual atoms of oxygen (called atomic oxygen) are common in space, particularly around massive stars. But molecular oxygen, which is formed of two bonded oxygen atoms and makes up about 20 percent of the air we breathe on Earth, has eluded astronomers until now.
While the existence of such molecules has long been predicted, direct observation is always a crucial test. Looks like (ha!) we found some of what we are looking for.