Документальный фильм "Breath of Fresh Air in the Orion Nebula"



<< Предыдущий док. фильм      Все фильмы      Следующий док. фильм >>

Breath of Fresh Air in the Orion Nebula

ScienceCasts: Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath of Fresh Air in the Orion Nebula.

Presented by Science at NASA.

Take a deep breath. You just filled your lungs with about a thousand billion, billion oxygen molecules. There are "oxygen bars" in California where you can actually pay for a deep breath of "O-2," but in most places on Earth, molecular oxygen is free and abundant.

The gas makes up almost 21 percent of our planet's atmosphere and is ubiquitous. Astronomers have just announced the discovery of this same gas in outer space.

"Here on Earth, oxygen was discovered in the 1770s," says Paul Goldsmith of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Early chemists called it "fire air" because of its combustible properties. But it has taken us more than 230 years to finally say with certainty that this very simple molecule also exists in space."

Goldsmith led a team of astronomers who used the European Space Agency's Hershel Space Telescope to search for signs of molecular oxygen in star-forming clouds. Hershel senses far-infrared radiation invisible to the human eye. It just so happens that molecular oxygen can be seen at these long wavelengths.

Goldsmith's team found the telltale signs of "O-2" near the core of the great Orion Nebula. The "2" in "O-2" is crucial. The oxygen we breathe on Earth is diatomic - that is, two oxygen atoms joined together to form a dumbbell shaped molecule. Single atoms of oxygen are highly reactive and can even be corrosive. But when you put two oxygen atoms together - aaaah - it's a breath of fresh air.

Astronomers have long known that the reactive atomic form of oxygen is abundant in the universe. It is found in gaseous nebulae, the atmospheres of stars, and many other places. This new discovery by Hershel shows at long last that the familiar diatomic form of oxygen is out there, too.

Curiously, the oxygen found by Goldsmith's team is not a free-floating gas. It appears to be mixed up in an icy frosting which coats grains of space dust in the nebula.

"This explains where some of the oxygen might be hiding," says Goldsmith. "But we didn't find large amounts of it, and still don't understand what is so special about the spots where we find it. The universe still holds many secrets."

Star-forming clouds tend to be dusty places, so there could be lots more O-2 hiding out there. Goldsmith says the team plans to continue their hunt for this familiar gas in other clouds beyond the Orion Nebula. Out there, he knows, is an elusive whiff of Earth among the stars.

For more fresh air in science news, visit science.nasa.gov.

Uploaded by ScienceAtNASA on Aug 25, 2011

Visit http://science.nasa.gov/ for more.

<< Предыдущий док. фильм      Все фильмы      Следующий док. фильм >>


Документальный фильм "Breath of Fresh Air in the Orion Nebula"

















   E-mail: abc-english@yandex.ru
   Copyright © 2002-2011 :: Abc-english-grammar.com  
    Яндекс цитирования