From www.cainer.com, Jonathan Cainer:
Today, I want to talk about yet another new planet - an awful lot further away. To reach it, you would have to point a space craft in the direction of Pegasus and travel, for 150 years, at the speed of light. Then you'd need to find a star called HD209458. Scientists have just discovered that a planet, in orbit around this, has an ATMOSHPERE! It contains oxygen... and methane. Oxygen, we all understand. Methane though, is - how shall I put this? A pungent gas that humans and animals emit from their nether regions. So there may be life out there after all. But perhaps it is just as well that it is so far away!
www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99991611 - NewScientist.Com says, "The new discovery is the first step towards being able to measure the composition and physical properties of the atmospheres of these planets. "It's an idea people would have laughed at seven years ago," says Tim Brown of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado."
... and ...
"The astronomers used data from the Hubble Space Telescope that measured the yellow-green light absorbed by sodium. They report in a future issue of Astrophysical Journal that the planet absorbs slightly more light at this wavelength than at others - clear evidence of sodium and an atmosphere."
... and ...
"This particular planet is very close to its star, and would be much too hot to support life as we know it. But the same technique could be used to investigate other planets that pass directly between us and their parent star.
To look for signs of life on planets that are not aligned in this way, scientists will have to wait for ESA's Darwin project, currently planned for launch in 2014. Darwin will use an array of six telescopes to detect the light from distant planets directly."
news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1679000/1679549.stm - BBC News says, "They hope eventually to detect methane, water vapour, potassium and other chemicals in the planet's atmosphere."
www.guardian.co.uk/spacedocumentary/story/0,2763,608237,00.html - Guardian Unlimited
zebu.uoregon.edu/51peg.html - The Electronic Universe, University of Oregon (technical evaluation)
Not so long ago, they discovered a new planet, KX76, in our own solar system (antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010830.html). And now this. It seems we're making leaps and bounds toward outer space.
I hope this is interesting to some of you.