Methane (CH4) is a simple organic substance commonly found in the atmosphere of many different worlds across the universe. The simplest of hydrocarbons, a molecule of methane is composed of one carbon atom linked to four hydrogen atoms. On Earth-like planets, methane is a lighter-than-air gas and its presence contributes to the greenhouse effect. Many microorganisms are able to produce methane through a form of anaerobic respiration known as methanogenesis. On cold worlds like Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, the compound is found in the liquid state, forming methane lakes and ponds.
Real life facts Edit
- At standard conditions, methane is a colorless, odorless and inflamable gas. Upon combustion, methane is converted into carbon dioxide and water vapor.
- Methane is a reduced carbon atom, with tetrahedral geometry and sp3 orbital hybridization. It is apolar as a result of its geometry, meaning that the molecule's net dipole moment is null.
- Being apolar means that only Van der Waals forces acting upon methane molecules are London dispersion forces, caused by the creation of short-lived, instantaneous dipoles through electronic fluctuactions within each molecule.
- It is produced by a naturally-occurring redox reaction known as methanogenesis, where carbon dioxide is reduced to produce methane and water.