View Full Version : Organic Molecules Detected in Exoplanet Atmosphere

2009-Oct-20, 04:20 PM
The basic chemistry for life has been detected the atmosphere of a second hot gas planet, HD 209458b. Data from the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes provided spectral observations that revealed molecules of carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor in the planet's atmosphere. The Jupiter-sized planet which occupies a tight, 3.5-day orbit [...]

More... (http://www.universetoday.com/2009/10/20/organic-molecules-detected-in-exoplanet-atmosphere/)

2009-Oct-20, 11:29 PM
Nice work by the pros. Particularly encouraging. With the current number of exoplanets only in the hundreds, and the potential for there to be billions per galaxy, an Earth-like exoplanet with an atmospheric composition suitable for life to develop, or for terraforming, is only a matter of time. Interesting. pete

2009-Oct-22, 08:15 AM
Does this allow any conclusions about the rest of that solar system?

For example, it might increase chances that those same molecules are present in significant quantities on other planets of that same solar system
(including moons and rocky planets).

What about the reverse situation:
if that gas giant did not have those molecules in its atmosphere, would that imply their absence in the entire solar system?

If so, this type of data might be used as a marker for potential habitability of solar systems...

2009-Oct-22, 09:40 AM
"carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor"

Hmm. I'd be surprised if these were not present.

2009-Oct-22, 04:01 PM
"carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor"

Hmm. I'd be surprised if these were not present.

Right. What would be more interesting is a combination of oxidizing and reducing gases....some oxygen or ozone mixed in. That'd be thermodynamically unstable unless you were constantly replenishing the concentrations. That's what makes the methane on Mars interesting. It could be geologically produced, or biochemically produced by something like methanogenic bacteria in mud. We're not expecting cows or termites there, but the tantalizing spectra make cave exploring there a very interesting prospect in the future.