Apr 21, 2024

A Pathway to Making Molecular Oxygen That Doesn’t Involve Life

Posted by in category: alien life

Researchers have quantified a pathway for the formation of molecular oxygen from the interaction of carbon dioxide with electrons, key information for searches of life on other worlds.

So far, life is only known to exist on Earth. But that hasn’t stopped scientists from searching for signs of living creatures on other planets. Those searches intensified with the deployment of the JWST observatory, which astronomers are using to characterize the atmospheres of far-off worlds in the hope of finding the signals of molecules that signify the presence of life (see News Feature: The Skinny on Detecting Life with the JWST). But for that to work, scientists need to know all the possible sources of atmospheric molecules. Now Lucas Sigaud of the Fluminense Federal University, Brazil, and his colleagues have uncovered a pathway for forming an oxygen molecule (O2]. The detailed measurements of the pathway provide key inputs for models used in planetary-life searches.

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