Carbon Dioxide Discovered on Extrasolar Planet

The discovery of CO2 in the atmosphere of extrasolar planet HD 189733b was announced in the November 21, 2008 issue of Nature News. The exoplanet is a hot Jupiter orbiting a star 63 light years from Earth. While it's extremely unlikely that this particular planet supports life as we know it, the ability to measure the presence of CO2 in its atmosphere bolsters the search for life outside the Solar System. Giovanna Tinetti, former NAI Postdoctoral Fellow, is lead author in the study which used the NICMOS instrument onboard the Hubble Space Telescope to make the measurement. The results were announced in Paris this week at the Molecules in the Atmospheres of Extrasolar Planets workshop, and will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Source: NAI Newsletter

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