Scientists discover a new origin of oxygen on Earth and in space

Scientists have found a new pathway to make molecular oxygen from carbon dioxide, no bio-photosynthesis involved. Pictured here, blue green algae, which is responsible for half of the oxygen on our planet. (Haraz N. Ghanbari / Associated Press)
Scientists have discovered a new way to make molecular oxygen (O2) from carbon dioxide (CO2) — no green plants involved.

By Deborah NetburnLos Angeles Times

Their findings could alter our understanding of the Earth’s early atmosphere and how oxygen might form on other planets with carbon dioxide in their atmospheres.

In a paper published Thursday in Science, researchers from UC Davis report that when carbon dioxide molecules are exposed to certain wavelengths of light radiation, they can get so excited that they split into a C molecule and an O2 molecule.

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