Is there a known set $S=\{x \in G: x^2=1, x\ne1\}$ of elements of a simple compact Lie group $G$ ? By simple compact Lie group I consider $SO_n$, $SU_n$, $Sp_n$, $G_2$, $F_4$, $E_6$, $E_7$, $E_8$. (Feel free to extend this definition in case you find it useful). What are the conjugacy classes in this set and their dimensions ? By "conjugacy class" I mean any set $\{gxg^{-1}\}_{g\in G}$ for $x$ in above set $S$.

For example in $SO_8$ the dimensions are 0, 12, 16, 12. In $O_8$ we should add 7, 15, 15, 7. These are dimensions of grassmanians $G_{k,8-k}$. For spin groups it would be oriented grassmanians. For given grassmanian element $K$ we have the map in $O_8$ which reverse $K$ and fix perpendicular space.

I am especially interested in the answer for exceptional Lie groups $F_4, E_6, E_7, E_8$. Elements which square to one I would call "octonion reflections" there. The conjecture is that the conjugacy classes of involutions correspond to Riemanian symmetric spaces.

I would add later more information on how to define such elements in spin groups.

By another occasion I am also interested in set $\{x^2=-1\}$. Element $-1$ in the group can be defined as order 2 element in the center. This question is only valid for groups having $-1$. This should be another question, I suppose. For mentioned group $SO_8$ this set is 12-dimensional, equal to complex structures on $\mathbb R^8$. By looking at Clifford algebra $C_6$ we can prove that it is equal to oriented grassmanian $G_{2,6}^+$.

EDIT: I am mainly interested in answer for groups $SO_n$, $SU_n$, $Sp_n$ and exceptional ones listed above. The "conjecture" is that for three families there are subsets of dimensions $n, 2n, 4n$ corresponding to projective spaces $\mathbb RP^n, \mathbb CP^n, \mathbb HP^n$. For exceptional ones the sets correspond to exceptional symmetric spaces embedded in the group (all of them or some of them ?).

EDIT 2: By looking at this wikipedia list of all Riemannian symmetric spaces we can check whether each such space can be embedded in proper Lie group and what are the properties of this set in the group. For example let's count dimension of quaternion structures on $\mathbb C^4$. Fix the point $v_0$ in $\mathbb CP^3$. Quaternion structure is the element $j$ in $U_4$ which square to $-1$ and map each complex plane to perpendicular one. We have 4 dimensions to select $w$ in $\mathbb CP^2$ perpendicular to $v_0$. Additional $5^{th}$ dimension is allowed to rotate image of $v_0$ in $w$. In space $\mathbb C^2$ perpendicular to $<v_0,w>$ map $j$ has also one more dimension of freedom, but we should subtract one dimension, because the circle $e^{i\alpha}j$ gives the same quaternion structure (is it clear ?). This gives $AII$ symmetric space $SU_4/Sp_2$.

Here is link to my previous question in this subject.

Regards, Marek