Millions of tons of
a class of extremely reactive chemicals called hydrotrioxides can linger in the atmosphere for several hours
The chemicals interact with
other compounds extremely quickly, and chemists will have to rethink just how processes in Earth's atmosphere occur.
It's long been
thought that hydrotrioxides were too unstable to last long under atmospheric conditions.
Hydrotrioxides are a regular
product of chemical reactions, and they can stay stable enough to react with other compounds in the atmosphere.
The discovery doesn't mean
that something new is happening in the atmosphere; rather, it seems that hydrotrioxides have always formed there.
But the new study
is the first time that the existence of these ultra-reactive chemicals in the atmosphere has been verified.