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In 1868 the English astronomer Sir William Huggins analyzed the spectrum of light emitted by several nebulae. He discovered the presence of light, which due to their peculiar wavelengths, could not be emitted from any known earthly element. To account for these oddities, he introduced a new hypothetical element, which he called Nebulium.

In 1927, American physicist and astronomer Ira Bowen correctly determined the origin of these spectral lines; they were in fact emitted from ionized oxygen and nitrogen, but only in conditions impossible to recreate on Earth.

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