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Tuesday, November 27, 2001



Alien Atmosphere

A planet.
A planet.
Credit: NASA
(CNN) - Scientists for the first time have detected an atmosphere on a planet outside our solar system, using NASA's flagship orbiting observatory. The observation suggests that the planet, which is almost as massive as Jupiter, has an atmosphere similar to gas giants in our solar system, researchers said. The same technique could be refined to scrutinize other planets for the kinds of gases consistent with the presence of life. "This opens up an exciting new phase of extrasolar planet exploration, where we can begin to compare and contrast the atmospheres of planets around other stars," lead scientist David Charbonneau said Tuesday. The planet is located around a sun-like star about 150 light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. It is one of about 80 planets discovered beyond our solar system in recent years. Chances are slim that this extrasolar planet harbors life as we know it. Because it orbits only 4 million miles from its parent star, its atmosphere sizzles at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 degrees Celsius).

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Alex @ 16:57 EST