The Webb telescope confirmed the existence of an exoplanet for the first time

The Webb telescope confirmed the existence of an exoplanet for the first time

The Webb telescope confirmed the existence of an exoplanet for the first time

Kevin Stevenson and Jacob Lustig-Yaeger of the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University decided to use Webb to confirm the existence of an extrasolar planet. They carefully selected their target, and after just two transits, using the Webb-mounted NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph), they were able to confirm that the object they picked was indeed a planet. “There is no doubt about it. Webb’s data confirms this. The fact that it’s a small, rocky planet just shows what the observatory can do,” Stevenson said.

Experts note that such unambiguous and high-quality data provided by the Webb Telescope on a rocky planet the size of the Earth is further proof that the Telescope opens up completely new possibilities for science in the field of studying the atmospheres of exoplanets. “Webb is bringing us one step closer to a better understanding of Earth-like planets beyond our solar system. And his mission has only just begun said Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA.

Webb is the only telescope capable of studying the atmospheres of Earth-sized exoplanets.

Scientists are now trying to study the atmosphere of LHS 475 b. For now, they do not know if it has an atmosphere at all. However, thanks to Webb’s data, they are already able to rule out different types of atmospheres. It is known that the planet does not have a dense methane-dominated atmosphere like Saturn’s moon Titan, for example. It is possible that there is no atmosphere at all, or that its atmosphere consists only of carbon dioxide, for example. So far, Webb has provided too little data. However, it allowed to conclude that the surface of the planet is several hundred degrees warmer than the surface of the Earth. If we detect clouds, it can be assumed that LHS 475 b is similar to Venus.

We also know that a planet orbits its star in just two days. So it is closer to the star than Mercury to the Sun, but its star is a red dwarf half as cold as the Sun, so scientists expect that despite its proximity to the star, the planet may have an atmosphere.

The studied planet is quite close, 41 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Octantus.

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