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!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
Most things around us are made of groups of atoms connected together into packages called molecules. Molecules are made from atoms of one or more elements. Some molecules are made of only one type of...more
Only a tiny amount of the gases in Earth’s atmosphere are greenhouse gases. But they have a huge effect on climate. There are several different types of greenhouse gases, but they all have something in...more
Air pollution comes from many sources. Some natural sources affect air quality. Volcanoes produce sulfur, chlorine, and ash. Wildfires make smoke and carbon monoxide. Cattle and other animals release methane...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
Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, have studied a section of the sea floor of the Arctic Ocean called the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. The results of...more
Triton is the largest moon of Neptune. It isn't quite as big as Earth's Moon. The surface of Triton is very, very cold. It is colder than the surface of any other planet or moon in our Solar System. It...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