NASA James Webb Space Telescope captures 1st-ever direct image of planet; not what you expected? Check details | Tech News

NASA James Webb Space Telescope captures 1st-ever direct image of planet; not what you expected? Check details

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope captures 1st-ever direct image of a planet (HIP 65426 b) outside our solar system. Here is all you need to know.

| Updated on: Sep 04 2022, 12:55 IST
NASA: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter makes astonishing discovery
James Webb Space Telescope
1/6 The lunar pits found by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have mild temperatures, drastically different from the extreme conditions on the surface of the Moon. The temperatures in these caves are nearly 17 degree Celsius almost at all times. (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)
James Webb Space Telescope
2/6 NASA Moon recently tweeted, "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of pits indicate that the Moon has caves. Could they become astronaut habitats? Scientists have discovered that parts of the pits are always about 63°F (17°C), differing from extreme temperatures at the Moon's surface". (NASA)
James Webb Space Telescope
3/6 The surface temperatures on the Moon can go from an extremely high 127 degrees Celsius and as low as -173 degrees Celsius. "The pits, and caves to which they may lead, would make thermally stable sites for lunar exploration compared to areas at the Moon's surface, which heat up to 260 F (about 127 C) during the day and cool to minus 280 F (about minus 173 C) at night,” NASA Moon tweeted further. (NASA)
James Webb Space Telescope
4/6 First discovered in 2009, these lunar pits could potentially be used as location for a first Moon Base. Not only are the temperatures moderate, but these pits could also provide protection against cosmic rays, solar radiation and micrometeorites, according to NASA. (AP)
James Webb Space Telescope
5/6 LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said, “Lunar pits are a fascinating feature on the lunar surface. Knowing that they create a stable thermal environment helps us paint a picture of these unique lunar features and the prospect of one day exploring them.” (NASA)
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6/6 The particular pit used to analyze the thermal properties by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was in an area of the Moon known as the Mare Tranquillitatis. It is 100-meters deep and as wide as a football field. According to scientists, the overhang of the pit is responsible for creating shadows on the Moon and maintaining a temperature of nearly 17 degrees Celsius at all times. (NASA)
James Webb Space Telescope
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Here is all you need to know about James Webb Space Telescope's 1st-ever direct image of a planet outside our solar system. (NASA/ESA/CSA)

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has for the first time captured a direct image of a planet outside of our solar system. It can be known that the exoplanet is a gas giant, meaning it has no rocky surface and could not be habitable. Informing about the same, "Webb Telescope tweeted, "Talk about out of this world! This is Webb's first direct image of a planet outside of our solar system, and it hints at Webb's future possibilities for studying distant worlds: Not what you expected? Let's walk through the details."

According to the information provided, the gas giant named HIP 65426 b is about 6-12 times the mass of Jupiter. It is young as planets go- about 15 to 20 million years old, compared to our 4.5 billion year old Earth. "The image, as seen through four different light filters, shows how Webb's powerful infrared gaze can easily capture worlds beyond our solar system, pointing the way to future observations that will reveal more information than ever before about exoplanets," NASA said in a blog post.

Each of Webb's 4 views is at a different wavelength of infrared light. The white star is the location of the host star. Its light is blocked by Webb's coronagraphs, or tiny masks. The bar shapes in the NIRCam views are artifacts of the telescope optics, not physical objects.

Astronomers discovered the planet in 2017 using the SPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile and took images of it using short infrared wavelengths of light. Webb's view, at longer infrared wavelengths, reveals new details that ground-based telescopes would not be able to detect because of the intrinsic infrared glow of Earth's atmosphere.

"Researchers have been analyzing the data from these observations and are preparing a paper they will submit to journals for peer review. But Webb's first capture of an exoplanet already hints at future possibilities for studying distant worlds," the blog post read.

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Also, since HIP 65426 b is about 100 times farther from its host star than Earth is from the Sun, it is sufficiently distant from the star that Webb can easily separate the planet from the star in the image. Taking direct images of exoplanets is challenging because stars are so much brighter than planets. The HIP 65426 b planet is more than 10,000 times fainter than its host star in the near-infrared, and a few thousand times fainter in the mid-infrared.

In each filter image, the planet appears as a slightly differently shaped blob of light. That is because of the particulars of Webb's optical system and how it translates light through the different optics.

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First Published Date: 04 Sep, 12:55 IST