06 July 2011

Only Your Astrophysicist Knows for Sure

Is the universe planning to turn blonde?

The Rho Ophiuchi star formation region
Using a telescope perched high in the Chilean Andes, an international team of astronomers discovered molecules of hydrogen peroxide, the chemical that bleaches hair, in a dense cloud of gas and dust near the star Rho Ophiuchi some 400 light-years distant.  

This find is more than an amusing curiosity. Hydrogen peroxide is formed when two hydrogen atoms link up with two oxygen atoms (H2O2), a pair of elements critical for life. Moreover, take just one oxygen out of hydrogen peroxide and you get water (H2O). So, further study of this molecule's chemistry out in deep space may help astronomers better understand the formation of water in the universe.  
Image Credit: ESO/S. Guisard 

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