Science and Technology

First Exoplanet Discovered by James Webb Telescope Confirmed | space

For the primary time, researchers have used the James Webb Space Telescope to verify the existence of an exoplanet. Called LHS 475 b, the celestial physique is 99% the diameter of Earth, which means it’s virtually the identical dimension as our planet. Furthermore, it’s comparatively near us, orbiting a pink dwarf within the constellation Octans, about 41 mild years away.

The research was led by Kevin Stevenson and Jacob Lustig-Yager, each of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. The workforce concerned within the discovery, which was introduced at an American Astronomical Society press convention this Wednesday (11), started learning the star after reviewing information from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess) that indicated its existence.

James Webb’s Near Infrared Spectrograph was capable of seize the exoplanet simply and clearly with simply two observations of the physique passing in entrance of the star. “There is little question that the planet is there. Webb’s unique information confirms this,” Lustig-Yaeger stated in a observe. “The undeniable fact that it is also a small, rocky planet is spectacular for the observatory,” Stevenson added.

Through these observations, astronomers additionally concluded that the planet wants solely two days to orbit its pink dwarf, which has lower than half the temperature of the Sun.

“These first observations of a rocky planet the dimensions of Earth open the door to many future alternatives to check the atmospheres of rocky planets with Webb,” stated Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. This telescope is even the one one able to characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets related in dimension to Earth.

Named LHS 475 b, the star is virtually the identical dimension as Earth and is comparatively near us, orbiting a star 41 light-years away — Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, L. Hustak (STScI)

In the primary take a look at, scientists tried to detect the composition of LHS 475 b’s environment by analyzing its transmission spectrum, however it’s not but attainable to find out whether or not the exoplanet even has an environment. According to consultants, the likelihood that the star has an environment that’s tough to detect, resembling one composed of pure carbon dioxide, can’t be dominated out. “Counterintuitively, an environment with 100% carbon dioxide is a lot extra compact that it turns into very tough to detect,” Lustig-Jäger explains.

More research ought to be performed this yr to raised characterize this side. “The Web is bringing us ever nearer to a brand new understanding of Earth-like worlds exterior our photo voltaic system, and the mission is simply starting,” says Clampin.

The space telescope was additionally capable of reveal that LHS 475 b is a number of hundred levels hotter than Earth. If clouds are discovered on the exoplanet, it can doubtless seem like Venus, our cloud-surrounded neighbor planet with a CO2-dominated environment, scientists are betting. “We are on the forefront of learning small, rocky exoplanets,” stated Lustig-Yager. “We’ve solely simply begun to scratch the floor of what their environment may be.”

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