Here are four different ways chemists use to show a molecule of methane. In the colored molecule models, carbon is light gray and hydrogen is white.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell.
Methane - CH4
Methane is a kind of gas.
There is a small amount of methane in the air you breathe. A methane molecule
has carbon and hydrogen atoms
Methane is a greenhouse gas.
That means it helps make Earth warm. But if there was too much methane, that
could make our planet too warm.
Where does the methane in Earth's
atmosphere come from? Cow burps, for one place! Farming rice also puts methane
into the air. Some methane also comes
from garbage dumps. Termites make lots of methane, too. Swamps also make
Methane can burn. It is used as a fuel. It is one of the main gases in natural
gas. The heat in your home might be from natural gas. Methane is called a hydrocarbon
because it has hydrogen and carbon atoms in it.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
Most things around us are made of groups of atoms bonded together into packages called molecules. The atoms in a molecule are held together because they share or exchange electrons. Molecules are made...more
Even though only a tiny amount of the gases in Earth’s atmosphere are greenhouse gases, they have a huge effect on climate. There are several different types of greenhouse gases. The major ones are carbon...more
Air pollution comes from many different sources. Natural processes that affect air quality include volcanoes, which produce sulfur, chlorine, and ash particulates. Wildfires produce smoke and carbon monoxide....more
There is a group of chemicals called hydrocarbons. The molecules of hydrocarbons are made of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Most kinds of fuel have hydrocarbons in them. Hydrocarbons store energy. Coal, oil,...more
Triton is by far the largest moon of Neptune. It is slightly smaller than Earth's Moon. The surface of Triton is colder than the surface of any other planet or moon in our Solar System. It is so cold on...more
Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, have led a research team to study a section of the sea floor of the Arctic Ocean in an area called the East Siberian...more
When you think of chemistry, do you think about mixing colored liquids in test tubes and maybe making an explosion... or at least a nice puff of smoke? Did you know that a lot of chemistry happens in Earth's...more