Hubble finds CO2 on far-away planet
The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide on a Jupiter-like planet outside our solar system, in a key step for finding extraterrestrial life, astronomers said Tuesday.
This discovery is another piece of evidence supporting the possibility that life could develop elsewhere. Water vapor and methane have also been spotted on HD 189733b, which is 63 light-years away.
Although the planet is far too hot to sustain life, astronomers hope the procedures that allowed them to discover these compounds will lead to a breakthrough in the hunt for distant Earth-like planets.
The planet orbits about the star HD 189733 (also called V452 Vulpeculae), a binary star system consisting of a primary orange dwarf star and a smaller, secondary red dwarf star. French astronomers discovered the exoplanet orbiting the primary star on October 5, 2005.
The carbon dioxide and monoxide were detected by Mark Swain, a research scientist at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, using Hubble to study infrared light emitted from the planet.
“The carbon dioxide is the main reason for the excitement because, under the right circumstances, it could have a connection to biological activity as it does on Earth,” Swain said.
Photo: The Telegraph