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Scientists Discover Molecular Oxygen Outside Of The Milky Way

Scientists Discover Molecular Oxygen Outside Of The Milky Way

For the first time in history, scientists have discovered breathable oxygen in another galaxy.

A team of astronomers at Shanghai Astronomical Observatory made the incredible find, which points towards the potential for life elsewhere.

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With oxygen being one of the most common elements known to man, scientists have long since believed it would be relatively easy to spot it in the universe. But until now, it had eluded them.

Using radio telescopes, researchers at the observatory spotted signs of it in a galaxy called Markarian 231, an incredible 560 million light-years away from Earth.

The telescopes showed radiation at a wavelength of 2.52 millimetres, which is the sign of breathable oxygen.

It's the first time oxygen has been found outside of the Milky Way. Credit: PA
It's the first time oxygen has been found outside of the Milky Way. Credit: PA

Usually, oxygen is incredibly difficult to detect from Earth because the kinds of signals that should alert us to it are absorbed by the planet's atmosphere.

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It was possible on this occasion because the light from Markarian 231 was redshifted, which means it was stretched into longer wavelengths as it travelled towards Earth, allowing it to pass through the atmosphere.

Writing about the discovery in the Astrophysical Journal, researchers confirmed it was the 'first detection of extragalactic molecular oxygen', and the most oxygen ever seen outside of our own solar system.

And while the idea of travelling to Markarian 231 is totally out of the question, it represents a potentially major breakthrough in the search for life.

However, one place where man has gone, and plans to go again, is the moon. And who knows, maybe you could go there soon.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The space boffins over at NASA are looking for the next set of recruits to boldly go where some people have gone before.

Hiring next month, they will be training a bunch of newbies up to take part in future missions to the moon, with the aim of jetting off into space in just four years time.

Speaking about the recruitment drive, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: "We're celebrating our 20th year of continuous presence aboard the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit this year, and we're on the verge of sending the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.

"For the handful of highly talented women and men we will hire to join our diverse astronaut corps, it's an incredible time in human spaceflight to be an astronaut.

"We're asking all eligible Americans if they have what it to takes to apply beginning 2 March."

However, before you get too excited about the chance of walking on the moon, the role comes with a fair few requirements - I mean, they're not just gonna let anyone go messing about in space, are they?

Firstly, you have to have US citizenship and have a master's degree from an accredited institution in any one of the following: computer science, mathematics, engineering, biological science or physical science.

And you may also need to have at least two years' experience in a PhD program related to science, in technology, engineering or mathematics.

You are also eligible if you have completed a doctorate in medicine or are a doctor of osteopathic medicine.

Bosses at NASA will even consider you if you have completed - or are set to complete - a nationally recognised test pilot school programme.

You must also have either at least two years of 'related, progressively responsible professional experience', or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet.

All applicants must also pass NASA's long-duration spaceflight physical.

Think you'd fit in? Then apply away.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Science, Interesting, space

Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]

 

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Scientists Discover Molecular Oxygen Outside Of The Milky Way

Scientists Discover Molecular Oxygen Outside Of The Milky Way

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