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First organic molecule on extrasolar planet discovered with Hubble

This is an animation showing the the Jupiter-sized extrasolar planet HD 189733b and its parent star (c) ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser and L. L. Christensen)

Tags: astronomer, atmosphere, extrasolar, Hubble, life, methane, molecule, planet, prebiotic, space, spectroscopy, star, water

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— 19 March 2008 18:00 GMT | Astronomy

The tell-tale signature of the molecule methane in the atmosphere of the Jupiter-sized extrasolar planet HD 189733b has been found with the Hubble Space Telescope. Under the right circumstances methane can play a key role in prebiotic chemistry - the chemical reactions considered necessary to form life as we know it…