Okay, so this is pretty wicked: they’ve found organic methane on a planet outside our solar system. I say it that way for those of you who think that “extrasolar” means “you get a tan twice as fast.”
The telltale signature of the molecule methane in the atmosphere of the Jupiter-sized extrasolar planet HD 189733b has been found with the Hubble Space Telescope.
This marks the first time any organic bits have been found outside of our solar system. So like I said: wicked.
Of course, this led to a discussion where some of us thought there was such a thing as non-organic methane. Myself, I thought that the organic methane was the good grass-fed stuff they sell at Whole Foods. But Doc Ezra was there to set us straight: no, methane is organic, period. He said, “For clarity’s sake, methane is ‘organic’ by virtue of containing hydrocarbons, so by definition, it doesn’t exist ‘inorganically.'”
So having learned my one new thing for the day, I celebrated by taking a five minute nap.
And I think this discovery might have been Clarke’s parting gift to us. I like to think of it that way, anyway.
- Click here to buy methane from Amazon. Kidding. They actually don’t sell it. But here, click here to buy Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which was, to most of us, our introduction to methane.