Historic! NASA James Webb Telescope detects CO2 in Saturn-sized exoplanet's atmosphere | Tech News

Historic! NASA James Webb Telescope detects CO2 in Saturn-sized exoplanet's atmosphere

NASA's James Webb Telescope has again done something historic!

| Updated on: Aug 26 2022, 22:48 IST
NASA reveals stunning Jupiter images captured by James Webb Space Telescope
NASA James Webb Telescope
1/6 Amazingly, currently, on Jupiter, there are auroras, storms, extreme temperatures and powerful winds stirring things up, according to NASA. The images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope could give scientists a look at the conditions of the gas giant. (NASA)
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2/6 Planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emerita of the University of California, Berkeley said, “We hadn’t really expected it to be this good, to be honest. It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image.” (NASA)
NASA James Webb Telescope
3/6 The images were captured by the telescope's Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) instrument on July 27, which highlighted the planet's unique features. According to NASA, the NIRCam has three specialized infrared filters that showcase details of the planet. (AFP)
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4/6 The image was created by compositing several images. Auroras are visible near the Northern and Southern poles of the planet. According to NASA, the auroras shine in a filter that is mapped to redder colors, which also highlights light reflected from lower clouds and upper hazes. (NASA)
NASA James Webb Telescope
5/6 The Great Red Spot as well as other clouds can be visible in the images as white since it is reflecting the sunlight. The Great Red Spot is a giant vortex which has been swirling around on Jupiter’s surface for a long time. Jupiter’s 2 moons, Amalthea and Adrastea can also be seen “photo-bombing” the planet. (REUTERS)
NASA James Webb Telescope
6/6 Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, as part of an international collaboration for Webb’s Early Release Science program said, “This one image sums up the science of our Jupiter system program, which studies the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter itself, its rings, and its satellite system.” (NASA/AFP)
NASA James Webb Telescope
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NASA researchers detected carbon dioxide in an exoplanet"s atmosphere. (JPL / NASA)

For the first time, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has detected evidence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet outside the solar system. The discovery of carbon dioxide has been spotted on the giant WASP-39 b planet orbiting a Sun-like star 700 light-years away. NASA says that the discovery provides important insights into the composition and formation of the planet. It further says that in the future Webb Telescope may be able to detect and measure carbon dioxide in the thinner atmospheres of smaller, rocky planets.

The hot gas giant, WASP-39 b has a mass roughly the size of Saturn and a diameter 1.3 times greater than Jupiter. NASA says that its high temperature can go up to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, or 900 degrees Celsius. “Unlike the cooler, more compact gas giants in our solar system, WASP-39 b orbits very close to its star – only about one-eighth the distance between the Sun and Mercury – completing one circuit in just over four Earth days,” NASA said in a blog post. The planet was discovered earlier in 2011.

To detect carbon dioxide, the team of researchers used the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which observed a small hill between 4.1 and 4.6 microns in the spectrum of the exoplanet's atmosphere. According to the team, this was the first clear and detailed evidence hinting toward the availability of carbon dioxide.

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However, this is the first time ever as no other observatory has ever measured such subtle differences in brightness which helped to detect the presence of carbon dioxide.

This exoplanet has more than just Carbon Dioxide

It is not just carbon dioxide, but the previous observations from other telescopes such as NASA's Hubble Telescope and Spitzer space telescopes had also revealed the presence of water vapour, sodium, and potassium in the same exoplanet's atmosphere. And now, the James Webb Telescope has confirmed the presence of carbon dioxide on this planet as well.

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First Published Date: 26 Aug, 22:48 IST