The figure here shows a close up of the signal detecting oxygen and the place where it was discovered. Recently, a team of researcher confirmed the presence of oxygen in a galaxy that exists almost 13.1 billion light years away from us. This is the farthest point where oxygen has yet been discovered. As per them, this data suggests that it might be the earliest or first points where oxygen must have been discovered. The scientists involved in this research hail from the word known National Astronomical Observatory located in Japan. There were number of other Japanese universities involved in this research. The galaxy they discovered is called Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) observatory. SXDF NB1006-2 galaxy was discovered some four years ago and the team is still under the process of identifying elements present on its surface.
The galaxy had ample of hydrogen which came as no surprise. However, the team was more curious about the presence of oxygen which as per them would be critical in understanding the origin of oxygen in first place. If oxygen was present in these galaxies, it is for sure that the galaxy must be undergoing the process of re-ionization where clouds of gases are ionized by space radiations. As the re-ionization of gas takes place it also leads to emission of a large flare of light. It takes place in a gap of some 5 million years. Because the flare is so strong and bright, the researchers expected to get a view of it from 13.1 billion light years distance with respect to ALMA. And the hunch paid off well, they were able to detect oxygen’s presence there with the presence of flare.
However, it doesn’t mean that the oxygen present there is anywhere close the one we are inhaling today. As a matter of fact, the amount of oxygen present there might vary to a much larger extent. As per Naoki Yoshida, the co-author of the paper from University of Tokyo, “The small abundance is expected because the universe was still young and had a short history of star formation at that time. In fact, out simulation predicted an abundance ten times smaller than the Sun.” On our planet, Oxygen is related with the presence of life. The discovery of this element so far from our earth raises possibilities of some other kind of life forms in that world. But it is for sure, this oxygen isn’t something we will all be able to breathe. As the lead researcher from Japan’s Osaka Sangyo University, Akio Inoue, puts it, “The detected oxygen is actually doubly ionized oxygen atoms, and not oxygen molecules which we breathe. So, we could not breathe in the 13.1 billion light years away galaxy we observed if we were there.”