RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Ozone layer, computer artwork. Oxygen molecules (O2, upper left) are hit by high-energy photons, causing them to split into two oxygen atoms (photodissociation of oxygen). Individual oxygen atoms (O) can then combine with oxygen molecues (O2) to create ozone (O3, centre). Ozone forms a stable layer, which screens the Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The ozone molecules absorb UV radiation (purple beams), which causes the ozone to split into an oxygen molecule and an oxygen atom. They can can then recombine to create more ozone. Depletion of the ozone layer has led to an ozone hole, which lets the radiation through.
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