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Atom & Cosmos

Oxygen molecules in space, Earth’s second moon, a mission to Jupiter and more in this week’s news

2:25pm, August 10, 2011

Interstellar oxygen bar
There’s no breathing in space, but there is oxygen. Astronomers have long known that single oxygen atoms float in interstellar space, but now scientists have also spotted molecules of two linked oxygens. The European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory found the molecules in a star-forming region in the constellation Orion; researchers aren’t sure why molecular oxygen has been so elusive until now. Paul Goldsmith of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. and his colleagues describe the find in an upcoming Astrophysical Journal. —Alexandra Witze

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