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Scientists discovered that an ultra-reactive molecule in the Earth’s atmosphere lasts far longer than previously thought. They estimate that millions of tonnes of the chemical might remain in the atmosphere for several hours.
Hydrotrioxides are the compounds in question. A hydrogen atom and three oxygen atoms make up the chemical. The consequences for human health and the Earth’s climate are perhaps the most worrying aspect of how long these ultra-reactive compounds last in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Hydrotrioxides were formerly thought to have an extremely limited lifetime. A new study, however, reveals that they might remain in the Earth’s atmosphere for at least 20 minutes, if not longer. And, because it is a byproduct of typical chemical reactions, new quantities of the molecule are produced virtually continuously.
Furthermore, this ultra-reactive molecule in the Earth’s atmosphere can rapidly combine with other substances. Furthermore, because hydrotrioxides include additional oxygen atoms, they may be highly combustible. Because of their flammability, different peroxides have been utilised in rocket fuel.
Hydrotrioxides are considered ultra-reactive for a reason. Hydrotrioxides, unlike certain other compounds, can interact with virtually any other chemical. Furthermore, nearly all chemical processes produce hydrotrioxides. As a result, the researchers estimate that at least 11 million tonnes of hydrotrioxides form each year in the atmosphere.
Because this ultra-reactive molecule is so prevalent in the Earth’s atmosphere, scientists believe it could play an important role in how the atmosphere functions. But it’s not clear what that section is. To demonstrate this, scientists will need to dig further into hydrotrioxides as a whole.
While we don’t yet have all of the answers, it’s always fascinating to see science affirm the presence of something in our world. Yes, the chemical itself is not novel. However, its presence in our atmosphere is new information. And now that we know, we can determine what role it might have, as well as whether it plays a role in the atmospheres of other worlds.