Detection of Interstellar H2O2

  • Author: ChemistryViews
  • Published: 11 July 2011
  • Copyright: WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: Astronomy & Astrophysics
thumbnail image: Detection of Interstellar H<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub>

An international team of astronomers around Per Bergman, Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden, carried out observations of the star Rho Ophiuchi in the serpent bearer constellation with APEX (Atacama Pathfinder Experiment), the submillimetre telescope on the 5000-metre Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes. The telescope is operated jointly by the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, together with the Swedish Onsala Space Observatory and the European Southern Observatory.
The astronomers identified the characteristic signature of hydrogen peroxide in the radio emissions.

It is still unclear how some of the most important molecules on Earth are formed in space. The findings lead to the theory that hydrogen peroxide is formed in space on the surfaces of cosmic dust grains. On these very fine particles similar to sand and soot atomic hydrogen is added to oxygen molecules. A further chemical reaction between the hydrogen peroxide and more hydrogen may lead to the formation of water.

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