The ozone layer, part of what is known
as the stratosphere layer of our
atmosphere, is mostly identical to the air you
breathe, if a little dryer (less water vapor).
That is to say it's about 78% nitrogen, 21%
oxygen, with the rest being small amounts of
various other gases such as argon and carbon
What makes the ozone layer special is that a
very small amount of its oxygen (every one in
several million atoms) is in a special form.
"Like many of its neighbor elements on the
periodic table , oxygen atoms want to pair up
and are usually found in the
"O2" form. It takes high energy
light from the sun (called ultraviolet) to break
this bond between oxygen pairs, but once an
O2 molecule is split into two separate
Os, it's a lot easier for each O to join another
O2 and form a triplet than to find
another rare individual O. These triplets,
O3 , are called ozone and
being unstable usually decay into other forms,
such as two triplets forming three pairs.
This process is cyclical with ozone constantly
being created and destroyed, thankfully
absorbing the vast majority of harmful
ultraviolet light in the process, which is why
our ozone layer is so important. As bonds are
broken, the energy from the sun is turned into
heat, heating up the stratosphere.
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