Scientists have announced the discovery of the first exoplanet found with the help of NASA The James Webb Space Telescope. The rocky world orbits the alien red dwarf star so tightly that it completes a complete revolution once every two Earth days.
Earth, as unique as it is, is only one of tens of billions of planets believed to inhabit the Milky Way galaxy. Worlds that exist outside our solar system, orbiting alien stars, are known as exoplanets.
With the help of powerful telescopes of the modern era, astronomers were able to do this It confirms the existence of more than 5000 alien planetseach boasting unique and sometimes shockingly alien features.
Incredible James Webb Space Telescope Images
Now astronomers have made the first confirmed discovery of a new exoplanet JWST’s sharp golden eye.
The candidate world, known as LHS 475 b, was first identified by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). TESS is designed to take a wide-angle view of space to focus on small, periodic dips in light from distant stars that could indicate the presence of an orbiting exoplanet passing between the telescope and its star shield.
One such light signal was detected from a red dwarf star orbiting within the Milky Way in the constellation Octanes, 41 light-years away from Earth. After the initial discovery, JWST was tasked with observing the distant star on August 31 last year.
Preliminary results from the flagship telescope confirmed the presence of a rocky exoplanet with a diameter 99% that of Earth in orbit around the red dwarf. The incidence of light from its host star revealed that LHS 475 b orbits its star in an incredibly tight orbit, even closer than the path of our solar system’s innermost planet, Mercury. our sun.
Its orbit is so close that the planet completes a complete circuit of its relatively cool parent star once every two Earth days.
Despite the quality of the JWST data, the team is not yet sure if the newly found world hosts an atmosphere. However, scientists have been able to rule out the presence of certain elements, including methane.
“The data from the observatory is beautiful,” explained astrophysicist Erin May of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. NASA said in a statement. “The telescope is so sensitive that it can easily detect a number of molecules, but we cannot yet draw definitive conclusions about the planet’s atmosphere.”
It is still possible for the world to have a compact atmosphere composed entirely of carbon dioxide. Such an atmosphere would be difficult to detect, but the resulting greenhouse effect would help explain why the planet is hundreds of degrees hotter than Earth despite orbiting a star with half the temperature of the Sun.
By studying distant worlds orbiting distant stars, astronomers can unlock the secrets of how our solar system’s planets and those scattered through space formed and evolved. However, the holy grail of exoplanet research would be the discovery of a world orbiting in the habitable zone of a star with the right ingredients for the evolution of extraterrestrial life—the region where liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface. .
JWST’s ability to characterize exoplanet atmospheres and search for signs of potential life is a powerful tool in humanity’s ongoing mission to explore strange new worlds, ultimately shedding light on this question. about whether humanity is alone in the universe.
“These first observational results from an Earth-sized, rocky planet open the door to many future opportunities for studying the atmospheres of rocky planets with Webb,” said Mark Klampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Webb is bringing us ever closer to a new understanding of Earth-like worlds beyond our solar system, and the mission is just getting started.”
Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video game news for IGN. He has more than eight years of experience covering events in many scientific fields, and you don’t have time for ambition. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer
Image credit: NASA
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