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NASA’s James Webb discovers its first PLANET just 41 light-years away – and it is analogous to Earth

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has discovered its first planet – and the rocky world is analogous to our own.

Formally classified as LHS 475 b., the exoplanet is 99 percent of Earth’s diameter and while it’s terrestrial, scientists don’t yet know if it has an environment.

Although the team cannot conclude what’s present, they’ve ruled out a thick methane-dominated atmosphere much like that of Saturn’s moon Titan.

JWST revealed that the planet, which sits 41 light-years away, is a number of hundred degrees warmer than Earth and completes an orbit in two days.

There continues to be much to find out about LHS 475 b., such exoplanets have remained ‘invisible’ to space telescopes, but JWST proves again just how powerful its technology is.

NASA announced its James Webb Telescope discovered its first planet. Formally classified as LHS 475 b., the exoplanet is 99 percent of Earth’s diameter

Mark Clampin, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement: ‘These first observational results from an Earth-size, rocky planet open the door to many future possibilities for studying rocky planet atmospheres with Webb.

‘Webb is bringing us closer and closer to a recent understanding of Earth-like worlds outside our solar system, and the mission is barely just getting began.’

While the invention is astounding, now scientists are working to find out what the planet’s atmosphere consists of.

The team notes that while the planet may haven’t any atmosphere, some atmospheric compositions, reminiscent of a pure carbon dioxide atmosphere, haven’t been ruled out.

Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, each of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said in an announcement: ‘Counterintuitively, a 100% carbon dioxide atmosphere is so rather more compact that it becomes very difficult to detect,’ 

Much more precise measurements are required for the team to tell apart a pure carbon dioxide atmosphere from no atmosphere in any respect. 

The researchers are scheduled to acquire additional spectra with upcoming observations this summer. 

 ‘We’re on the forefront of studying small, rocky exoplanets,’ Lustig-Yaeger said. 

‘We’ve barely begun scratching the surface of what their atmospheres may be like.’

The researchers’ findings have opened the potential for pinpointing Earth-sized planets orbiting smaller red dwarf stars. 

‘This rocky planet confirmation highlights the precision of the mission’s instruments,’ Stevenson said. 

‘And it is barely the primary of many discoveries that it’s going to make.’ Lustig-Yaeger agreed. ‘With this telescope, rocky exoplanets are the brand new frontier.’ 

 Though scientists have no idea what the atmosphere consists of, JWST has the power to search out out.

NASA announced in November that the telescope successfully revealed the makeup of an exoplanet’s atmosphere in never before seen detail, and the milestone suggests it could also seek for alien life.

scientists do not yet know if it has an atmosphere. Although the team cannot conclude what is present, they have ruled out a thick methane-dominated atmosphere similar to that of Saturn's moon Titan.

scientists don’t yet know if it has an environment. Although the team cannot conclude what’s present, they’ve ruled out a thick methane-dominated atmosphere much like that of Saturn’s moon Titan.

JWST’s powerful instruments captured atoms and molecules, together with signs of energetic chemistry and clouds – features Hubble and Spitzer were unable to detect once they observed the planet and people who hold evidence of signs of life.

Astronomers used WASP-39b, a hot Saturn 700 light-years from Earth, to check the telescope’s capabilities. The telescope used its infrared capabilities to select up colours and chemical fingerprints that can’t be detected in visible light.

The brand new insights, deemed a ‘game changer,’ could reveal how this exoplanet formed out of the disk of gas and mud surrounding the parent star in its younger years. 

WASP-39b is orbiting a number star that’s eight times closer than Mercury is to our sun, which astronomers consider should bring a deeper understanding of how these processes affect the range of planets observed within the galaxy.

A light curve from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) shows the change in brightness from the LHS 475 star system over time as the planet transited the star on August 31, 2022 - and this is how the telescope spotted it

A lightweight curve from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) shows the change in brightness from the LHS 475 star system over time because the planet transited the star on August 31, 2022 – and that is how the telescope spotted it

To uncover the exoplanet’s secrets, JWST tracked the planet because it passed in front of its star, allowing a few of its light to filter through its atmosphere.

‘Several types of chemicals within the atmosphere absorb different colours of the starlight spectrum, so the missing colours tell astronomers which molecules are present,’ NASA shared in Tuesday’s announcement.

‘By viewing the universe in infrared light, Webb can pick up chemical fingerprints that cannot be detected in visible light.’

The telescope also detected a spread of elements, including sodium (Na), potassium (K) and water vapor (H20) within the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

These confirm what was previously captured by space and ground-based telescope observations, but JWST found additional fingerprints of water at these longer wavelengths which have not been seen before.

Carbon dioxide was also present in the brand new data, which was detected at higher resolutions, providing twice as much as previously observed.

And while carbon monoxide was detected, astronomers didn’t discover methane (CH4) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the info.

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