Planetologists explain unknown emissions of oxygen from comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko
(ORDO NEWS) — In 2015, the Rosetta spacecraft detected an abundant release of molecular oxygen from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P).
For example, a new analysis led by planetary scientist Adrienne Luspai-Kuti of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) suggests that the discovery of Rosetta may not be as strange as scientists first thought.
“ It’s kind of an illusion ,” Luspai-Kuti said. “ Actually, the comet does not have that high oxygen content… it has stored oxygen that is trapped in the upper layers of the comet and then released all at once . ”
Although molecular oxygen is common on Earth, it is noticeably rarer in the universe. It binds quickly to other atoms and molecules, especially hydrogen and carbon atoms, which are ubiquitous, so oxygen only appears in small amounts in a few molecular clouds.
However, when Rosetta discovered oxygen “leaking” from Comet 67P, everything turned upside down. No one had seen oxygen in a comet before, and its appearance required an explanation.
Oxygen appears to have entered the comet with water, leading many researchers to suspect that oxygen was either primordial that is, it entered with water during the birth of the solar system and accumulated in the comet when it later formed or formed from water. after the formation of the comet.
The team hypothesized that oxygen in a comet does not come from water, but from two reservoirs: one of oxygen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide deep inside the comet’s rocky core, and a shallower pocket closer to the surface where oxygen chemically combines with water ice molecules.
The main implication, the researchers say, is that comet 67P’s oxygen is actually the one that formed early in the solar system.
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