Old 03-20-2008, 09:50 AM Offline   #1 (permalink)



 
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Default Molecular Basis for Life Found on Extrasolar Planet

DarkProphet writes "NASA scientists have discovered the first evidence of organic molecules on an extrasolar planet. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, they detected trace amounts of methane on a swirling gas giant about 63 light-years from our own planet. Being a gas giant, there's almost no chance this discovery represents extrasolar life. A unique find, just the same. 'HD 189733b, a so-called "hot Jupiter," located 63 light years away, has proven a boon for scientists studying exoplanets. Its large size and proximity to its star mean that it dims the star's light more than any other known exoplanet. Combine that with its home star's high brightness, and scientists find that the system creates the best viewing conditions of any known extrasolar system. At different wavelengths, every atom and molecule has its own telltale footprint, so scientists can convert what are known as absorption spectra into the chemical composition of the object they're looking at.'"Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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