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Oxygen found half a billion light years away

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Myles

I won't pretend to understand how they know it is oxygen, but I wonder what the chances are that they are incorrect?  

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OpenMindedSceptic
1 hour ago, Myles said:

I won't pretend to understand how they know it is oxygen, but I wonder what the chances are that they are incorrect?  

Always a possibility but actually low. They have probably used spectroscopic analysis which is pretty accurate. 

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spud the mackem

Does this mean that any life which may have evolved due to the oxygen , has a 1/2 a billion light years start on us , as the light we are seeing now started out 1/2 a billion light years ago , or have I got it wrong . The time and distance is impossible to imagine .

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OverSword

They detected oxygen that occurred half a billion years ago.

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Waspie_Dwarf
4 hours ago, Tuco's Gas said:

They use a method called gas chromatography. Basically it's discerning the type of gases that various planets have in their atmosphere by the visual spectrum wavelengths that are emitted. They use this method on stars too.

 

An incorrect guess. This is not what gas chromatography is.

Gas chromatography is a laboratory method of analysing chemicals by splitting them into individual components and passing them through a detector. The gas, in the name, refers to the "mobile phase" not what is being detected. In other words it is a gas that pushes the substance to be analysed through  a column where it is separated. This differentiates ot from liquid chromatography.

Gas chromatography requires a sample to be physically injected into the apparatus and so is not appropriate to use on a sample which is half a billion light years away.

The method you are describing is spectrophotometry, which is how they detected it.

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Waspie_Dwarf
Just now, Tuco's Gas said:

Chromatography is just another method. NASA is obviously not inspecting samples in their lab Chroma machine from a planet 300M LYs away!

And, uh, I wasn't guessing.

 

As a former analytical chemist that used gas and liquid chromatography for more than two decades I can categorically confirm that not only were you guessing, but you were guessing wrongly. 

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Waspie_Dwarf

Very good. Did you actually read that link?

It proves that you guessed wrong.

Here is what it says:

Quote

This type of study is called spectrometry.

There is no mention of gas chromatography because you can not analyse a distant gas using that method. 

Here is what gas chromatography is: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_chromatography

I suggest you read it and learn something rather than spreading false information as a result of incorrect guessing. 

Note:

In my original post I allowed autocorrect to change my mis-spelled spectroscopy to spectrophotometry. This was a mistake I didn't notice. Spectrophotometry is a different technique... but still a hell of a lot closer than gas chromatography. 

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Tom1200
15 hours ago, Tuco's Gas said:

Hope this helps...

spectroscopy2.jpg

Nope.  A diagram taken out of context with no explanation does nothing to support your argument or help the reader's understanding.  (Also - the red light entering the prism should refract towards the normal, and on leaving must refract away from it.  What schoolboy errors!)

Waspie's correct.  Spectroscopy, not chromatography.  For chromatography you need access to the sample under investigation.  To identify chemicals in a distant star/galaxy you analyse the light that reaches us - that's called spectroscopy. 

There are emission spectra, where you look for distinctive peaks in light of certain wavelengths, and absorption spectra if the light has passed through e.g. a cloud of dust on its way to us.  We (legal disclaimer - not actually me, but real scientists) know what to look for because they're the same substances as on Earth.  It used be quite laborious, but now you press a button and the computer tells you exactly which elements, molecules, ions and isotopes are present/missing.

Spectroscopy has been around a long time.  It was through analysing such spectra that Edwin Hubble discovered the expansion of the universe nearly 100 years ago.

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Waspie_Dwarf
On 2/24/2020 at 10:09 PM, spud the mackem said:

Does this mean that any life which may have evolved due to the oxygen , has a 1/2 a billion light years start on us , as the light we are seeing now started out 1/2 a billion light years ago , or have I got it wrong . The time and distance is impossible to imagine .

Your are right that the light took 500 million years to get here.

There are two points to be made though. The first is that this is not oxygen associated with the atmosphere of a planet, it is molecular oxygen found in a molecular cloud in interstellar space in the Markarian 231 galaxy and so it is highly unlikely to be associated with life.

The second point is that life did not occur on Earth because of oxygen, oxygen occurred in Earth's atmosphere because of life.

There was almost no oxygen in Earth's atmosphere until blue-green algae evolved and started producing it as a waste product of photosynthesis in what is know as the Great Oxidation Event. In fact oxygen was actually toxic to most life on Earth and led to the first known mass extinction event, which gives the Great Oxidation Event one of it's alternative names... the Oxygen Catastrophe.

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