Methane molecule

Methane molecule

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Credit: KENNETH EWARD/BIOGRAFX/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Methane molecule. Computer generated model of a methane molecule (CH4). One carbon atom (red ball) is surrounded by four hydrogen atoms (clear balls) in tetrahedral symmetry. The sticks between the spheres represent the bonds holding the atoms together to form the molecule. Methane, part of the alkanes, is a colourless, odourless gas. It is the chief constituent of natural gas, which is used as a fuel. It can be formed by the decay of vegetable matter. When released into the atmosphere, methane helps to trap the heat of the Sun, acting as a greenhouse gas and contributing to global warming.

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