The space is full of mysteries. Now and then, we get a piece of news about outer space that blows our minds away.
Astronomers have been working tirelessly to uncover the galaxy’s secrets and have seen a fair amount of success.
However, they are also aware of the fact that they can discover plenty of other things too.
One of their most recent discoveries has been the presence of molecular oxygen in a relatively unknown galaxy.
For those who do not know, molecular oxygen is a vital element of the air that we breathe.
For several years, it was common knowledge that there is no oxygen in space. Well, it looks like there is one galaxy.
It is light-years away, and based on some discoveries, could contain breathable oxygen.
What Led To This Discovery?
For years, scientists have been looking for intelligent life all over the universe.
Primarily, they were on the lookout for creatures that share similarities with human beings.
Since there’s always a chance that such entities could be living in an environment unsuitable for us, scientists decided to give space a try.
While they were not able to find otherworldly creatures, some clues led them to believe they could indeed exist in various undiscovered galaxies.
Such small discoveries made this pursuit seem exciting and worthwhile, which is why researchers dived deep into space exploration like no one else.
Eventually, a team from Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, captained by Junzhi Wang, claimed that they found oxygen in a distant galaxy known as “Markarian 231.”
It’s located more than 580 light-years from the Milky Way, where the team set up their space stations.
The discovery was a massive newsworthy moment.
However, that was not all.
Upon investigating the galaxy closely, the team of astronomers observed that there was some molecular oxygen in this newly discovered galaxy.
The astronomers used a powerful telescope known as the IRAM 30 to detect the oxygen.
What We Know About Marakarian 231
While the galaxy’s discovery was no small achievement, what the astronomers found inside gained more attention.
However, some people were still quite curious about Markarian.
They wanted to know if it contained anything other than the oxygen molecules and how long it took for the astronomers to discover this galaxy.
Well first off, Markarian 231 is the closest galactic nucleus to Earth.
According to NASA’s estimation, it is more than 580 million light-years away.
From what the astronomers observed, this quasar was brighter compared to all of the others they came across.
Furthermore, it glows around supermassive black holes at the center of the galaxy.
There have been conflicting reports surrounding Markarian 231’s discovery.
Some experts claim that NASA discovered it back in the late 1960s.
However, there is very little evidence regarding it.
In case the space organization did find it back then, it’s safe to say that they didn’t extract as much information regarding it as we have today.
With the excellent progress of astronomers so far, you could expect some more updates soon.
Is Detecting Oxygen A Challenging Task?
Despite the ample amount of oxygen we have at Earth, it is still quite fascinating for scientists.
Why? Because they want to discover different places where human life can not only survive but thrive as well.
Contrary to what it may seem, searching for oxygen in other parts of the universe is quite challenging.
The discovery of molecular oxygen in Marakarian 231 is surprisingly only the third time when scientists discovered oxygen elsewhere in this universe.
However, these findings were in our galaxy. The Orion Nebula and the Rho Ophiuchus cloud are the other two places where researchers detected oxygen.
Despite the most recent discovery in Markarian, the search continues, and astronomers hope to find several other places in space with breathable oxygen.
Is It Possible To Live On Other Planets With An Oxygen Alternative?
As soon as the news about the discovery in Marakarian became common, people started asking tons of questions about it.
A common query that people had was if they could live on other planets if they contained molecular oxygen.
Well, the answer is no. It would be best if you did not get your hopes up about living on another planet yet because the presence of oxygen is not enough to breathe in outer space.
There are numerous other elements involved in the breathing processes.
Human beings also require components like methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and plenty of other molecules to breathe.
All of these elements are present in the Earth’s air, making it breathable for human beings and various other organisms.
Therefore, if you are getting any wild ideas about escaping this planet and living on another one, you may need to reconsider.
It will take a considerable amount of time for human beings to inhabit the Markarian 231 or any other galaxy.
More importantly, no one knows whether or not it will even be possible in the future.
Nevertheless, science and technology have been evolving at a rapid pace, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone come up with a plan practical enough to ensure our survival in space.
Other Similar Discoveries
Astronomers discovered a habitable planet in 2019.
It contained water, which was quite surprising as no other planet before this had any signs of H20.
The people who discovered this planet refer it to as “K2-12B.”
Astronomers are quite confident that aliens inhabit the planet.
According to estimations, its size could be twice as big as the Earth.
Because of the limited technology at their disposal, scientists cannot determine if the planet has any living creatures.
Water is the only thing they discovered so far.
However, astronomers are hopeful that they will get powerful telescopes in the future that allow them to detect life on K2-18B and various other rarities.