What is the structural formula of methane?


Quick Answer

Methane is a simple hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. The molecule is structured as a single atom of carbon surrounded by four atoms of hydrogen. The hydrogen atoms radiate out from the center of the molecule.

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Full Answer

The five atoms in a molecule of methane are held together by covalent bonds. Carbon usually forms four bonds, while hydrogen naturally forms only single bonds. This allows CH4 to adopt a stable configuration in which each hydrogen atom is single bonded with the central atom of carbon. Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon in the alkane series, and it is a major component of natural gas.

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