From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul> Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 06:20:58 -0800 Fwd Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 14:54:30 -0500 Subject: Oxygen Detected In Wake Of Extrasolar Planet Source: The News Sentinel http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/7911756.htm Mon, Feb. 09, 2004 Oxygen detected in wake of extrasolar planet The Dallas Morning News (KRT) - Astronomers have discovered oxygen on a planet outside the solar system - but not, sadly for sci-fi addicts, the kind of oxygen that extraterrestrial critters could breathe. Oxygen and carbon atoms are flying away from a planet that orbits the star HD 209458, which is 150 light-years (900 trillion miles) away. The oxygen and carbon most likely came from the planet's lower atmosphere, where they once existed in stable molecules such as water and methane. Alfred Vidal-Madjar, an astronomer in Paris, and his colleagues made the discovery by studying HD 209458 with the Hubble Space Telescope. Every 3 1/2 days, the planet passes directly in front of its parent star, creating a three-hour eclipse as seen from Earth. The astronomers took advantage of these eclipses to study the huge gaseous atmosphere being ripped away from the planet by the star's powerful gravitational pull. The findings will appear soon in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Scientists have unofficially dubbed the planet Osiris, after the ancient Egyptian god who was ripped to pieces to prevent his return to life after being murdered.
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