NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 24 January 2023: Webb's exoplanet discovery generated by AI
NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning AI-generated picture of an exoplanet named LHS 475 b.
Humans have been on the hunt for an Earth-like planet for years. The space race has led mankind to the Moon, Mars and even the outer solar system. Space agencies like NASA, ISRO, CNSA and ESA use their extensive resources to search for potential planets which could support life one day should the need to ever leave Earth arise. Although there are more planets in the Universe than you could ever imagine, only a handful of them have the potential to support life one day.
To search for habitable planets which could potentially support life, NASA launched its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on April 18, 2018. TESS is an all-sky survey mission that will discover thousands of exoplanets around nearby bright stars. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has also recently discovered its first Earth-sized exoplanet, LHS 475 b, after studying the data collected by TESS about various exoplanets.
NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a special one today. That is because it isn't a real image captured by an astrophotographer, but an AI generated picture of the Earth-sized exoplanet LHS 475 b created using DeepAI's Fantasy World Generator. Although LHS 475 b is closer to its star than any planet in our solar system, its red dwarf star is less than half the temperature of the Sun, so the researchers project it still could have an atmosphere.
If you could stand on exoplanet LHS 475 b, what might you see? No one knows for sure but pictured here is an interesting guess made by an Earth-based artificial intelligence (AI) engine. The existence of the exoplanet was indicated in data taken by the Earth-orbiting TESS satellite but confirmed and further investigated only this year by the near-Earth Sun-orbiting James Webb Space Telescope. What is known for sure is that LHS 475 b has a mass very similar to our Earth and closely orbits a small red star about 40 light years away.
The featured AI-illustrated guess depicts a plausibly rugged Earth-like landscape replete with molten lava and with the central red star rising in the distance. Webb data does not as yet reveal, however, whether LHS 475 b has an atmosphere. One of Webb's science objectives is to follow up previous discoveries of distant exoplanets to better discern their potential for developing life.
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