NASA's James Webb Space Telescope captures image of exoplanet 12x more massive than Jupiter | Tech News

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope captures image of exoplanet 12x more massive than Jupiter

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has again done something surprising while capturing a direct image of an exoplanet. Here’s what NASA said.

| Updated on: Sep 05 2022, 23:28 IST
NASA: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter makes astonishing discovery
NASA 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)
NASA 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)
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)
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)
NASA 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)
NASA James Webb Space Telescope
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Know all about James Webb Space Telescope's first-ever image of a planet outside our solar system. (NASA )

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope hasn't even completed one year since launch, and it has already left scientists impressed with its discoveries and stunning photos of planets, stars, and exoplanets from deep space. In the latest development, in the first-ever such event, astronomers have used NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to take a direct image of a planet outside our solar system. It is basically made up of gas and has no rocky surface, which means the found planet could not be habitable. The captured exoplanet named HIP 65426 b, is around six to 12 times the mass of Jupiter.

NASA shared that the image of the exoplanet has been seen through four different light filters of the telescope, which proves how James Webb's powerful infrared technology can easily capture worlds beyond our solar system. The space agency hopes that this discovery paves the way for future observations that will help to unveil more information than before about the exoplanets.

What is this massive exoplanet

This exoplanet HIP 65426 b was first discovered in 2017 using the SPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. However, it took images of it using short infrared wavelengths of light. On the other hand, Webb's gaze used longer infrared wavelengths, which helped to reveal new details about the exoplanet. NASA revealed that it is a young planet, about 15 to 20 million years old, compared to our 4.5-billion-year-old Earth.

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NASA says in its blog post, "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."

It was a challenging task!

NASA explains that taking direct images of exoplanets is a challenging task. As stars are so much brighter than planets, it becomes difficult to capture a detailed image of these exoplanets. However, the HIP 65426 b planet is more than 10,000 times lighter than its host star, and even a few thousand times fainter in the mid-infrared.

Aarynn Carter, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California and led the analysis of Webb's images said, "Obtaining this image felt like digging for space treasure." However, this is not the first time, when a space agency has captured a direct image of an exoplanet. James Webb Telescope's predecessor, Hubble Space Telescope has captured direct exoplanet images previously – HIP 65426 b.

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First Published Date: 05 Sep, 23:28 IST