Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Organic compound found on extrasolar planet

Aliens! Zomg!

Well, possibly not. The planet in question is a Jupiter sized planet designated HD 189733b and orbits its parent star at a distance closer than that of Mercury to our Sun. Needless to say, it ain't the most hospitable place at a roasting temperature of 1100K or so.

Through spectroscopy researchers have managed to determine the presence of the organic compound Methane in the atmosphere of the planet. However, as co-author of the study Dr Giovanna Tinetti told BBC news "The methane here, although we can call it an organic consitutent, is not produced by life - it is way too hot there".

Still it's an interesting discovery, and nicely highlights the fact that astronomers are capable of detecting these compounds on other worlds, something that may one day reveal some astounding stuff when we apply it to an extrasolar planet that has more suitable conditions for life.

So no aliens, but some good science.

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