In a first, James Webb Space Telescope discovers water near rocky worlds

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has found presence of water in the PDS 70 system. Read to know more.

| Updated on: Jul 25 2023, 13:28 IST
NASA reveals stunning Jupiter images captured by James Webb Space Telescope
James Webb Space Telescope has discovered water traces on an alien planet
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)
James Webb Space Telescope has discovered water traces on an alien planet
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)
James Webb Space Telescope has discovered water traces on an alien planet
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)
James Webb Space Telescope has discovered water traces on an alien planet
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)
James Webb Space Telescope has discovered water traces on an alien planet
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James Webb Space Telescope has discovered water traces on an alien planet (AP)

Over the years researchers have been studying rocky planets and exoplanets for the presence or traces of water. And for the first time, astronomers have discovered that certain rocky planets can have a huge amount of water. Now scientists believe that the evidence suggests water's involvement as a key component during the birth of rocky planets.

According to a report, Earth's water is there due to water-bearing asteroids bombarding our young Earth's surface. Now, in a recent study, scientists have discovered rocky planets with signs of water, which are near the centre of a planet-birthing disk.

About PDS 70

The PDS 70 is located about 370 light-years away from the Earth. PDS 70 is around 5.4 million years old, and the Sun is about 4.6 billion years old and has about three-quarters the mass of PDS 70.

As per lead author Giulia Perotti, an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, “PDS 70 is a star similar to our sun, just younger and cooler. By observing it, we can trace back how the planets in our solar system formed and what their chemical composition was before they fully formed."

With the help of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, researchers discovered water in the inner disk of the PDS 70 system. The planet was surrounded by gas and dust due to the water being in the form of hot vapour with a speculated temperature of approx. 330 degrees Celsius.

As per the published findings, a rocky planet around PDS 70 can draw from this huge amount of water in the central region which could also create a possibility of habitability in the future.

However, earlier, scientists have also studied such planets in terms of water discoveries but no clues were found till PDS 70. This led astronomers to speculate that the intense radiation from newborn stars could wipe out a substantial amount of water. Nevertheless, these findings now create doubt about this theory.

So far scientists have stated two reasons for the presence of water, it is possible that the water was shielded from radiation during the formation of the PDS 70 system by a water-rich nebula. And another, the combination of oxygen and hydrogen gas that entered the PDS 70 disk's outer rims may have produced water vapour, which may have then drifted towards the star.

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First Published Date: 25 Jul, 13:27 IST
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