Now, measurements from Herschel reveal that a molecule known as OH+, which is a positively charged combination of single oxygen and hydrogen atoms and can go on to form water, is spewed out as part of the nebula (it's highlighted in the image above). It's been assumed in the past that the harsh radiation experienced during the star death would destroy such molecules, but two separate studies have now shown that not to be the case.
Of course, it'll be a while before those molecules could ever be of any use—not least because you'd need to wait for a new solar system to form. [ESA]
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