The basic life chemistry detected in another planet: the hot gas planet, HD 209458b, orbiting a sun-like star 154 light years away in the constellation Pegasus.
Peering far beyond our solar system, NASA researchers have detected the basic chemistry for life in a second hot gas planet, advancing astronomers toward the goal of being able to characterize planets where life could exist. The planet is not habitable but it has the same chemistry that, if found around a rocky planet in the future, could indicate the presence of life.Yet more evidence of how widespread the building blocks of life are in the universe. The creation of life takes more than a source of building blocks, but those blocks are still fundamentally essential.
"It's the second planet outside our solar system in which water, methane and carbon dioxide have been found, which are potentially important for biological processes in habitable planets," said researcher Mark Swain of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Detecting organic compounds in two exoplanets now raises the possibility that it will become commonplace to find planets with molecules that may be tied to life."
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For more information about HD 209458 b, visit its entry in the Planetary Society's Catalog of Exoplanets at <http://www.planetary.org/exoplanets/list.php?exo=HD+209458+b>.
Murrill, Mary Beth. "Astronomers do it Again: Find Organic Molecules Around Gas Planet (w/ Video)." PhysOrg.com. PhysOrg.com. 20 October 2009. Web. 22 October 2009. <http://www.physorg.com/news175274383.html>.
Image credit: NASA.