NASA’s James Webb Telescope detects water on distant planets. Details here
The US space agency said today that NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has detected signs of water, along with evidence of clouds and haze, in the atmosphere of a gaseous planet A hot, bulging giant orbiting a Sun-like star more than a thousand light-years away.
According to NASA, the observation is the most detailed to date, demonstrating Webb’s unprecedented ability to analyze distant atmospheres. WASP-96 b is one of more than 5,000 confirmed exoplanets in the Milky Way.
Located 1,150 light-years away in the southern sky constellation Phoenix, it represents a gas giant with no direct analogue in our solar system, it said in a statement.
With a mass less than half of Jupiter and a diameter 1.2 times larger, WASP-96 b is much more massive than any planet orbiting our Sun. With a temperature greater than 538 degrees Celsius, it is significantly hotter.
According to NASA.
The combination of its large size, short orbital period, inflated atmosphere, and lack of polluting light from nearby objects in the sky make WASP-96 b an ideal target for observations. ozone.
While the Hubble Space Telescope has analyzed many exoplanet atmospheres over the past two decades, recording the first clear detection of water in 2013, Webb’s detailed and immediate observations mark a milestone. A giant step forward in the quest to characterize potentially habitable planets beyond Earth.
On June 21, Webb’s Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrometer (NIRISS) measured the light from the WASP-96 system for 6.4 hours as the planet passed by the star.
This results in a light curve that shows the overall dimming of the starlight during transmission and a transmission spectrum that shows the variation in brightness of the individual wavelengths of infrared light over the range. 0.6 to 2.8 micrometers.
The light curve confirms properties of the planet that have been determined from other observations – the existence, size and orbit of the planet.
Transmission spectra reveal previously hidden details of the atmosphere: clear signs of water, signs of haze, and evidence of clouds that were thought to be nonexistent based on previous observations.
Transmission spectroscopy is produced by comparing star light filtered through a planet’s atmosphere as it passes through the star with unfiltered starlight detected when the planet is next to the star. star.
The researchers were able to detect and measure the abundances of key gases in the planet’s atmosphere based on absorption patterns – the positions and heights of the peaks on the graph.
Similar to how humans have unique fingerprints and DNA sequences, atoms and molecules have characteristic wavelength patterns that they absorb.
The spectrum of WASP-96 b is not only the most detailed near-infrared transmission spectrum of exoplanet atmospheres imaged to date, but it also covers a remarkably wide range of wavelengths, including both visible red light and a portion of the spectrum not NASA said were previously accessible from other telescopes.
This part of the spectrum is particularly sensitive to water as well as other important molecules such as oxygen, methane and carbon dioxide.
Researchers will be able to use spectroscopy to measure the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, limit the abundances of various elements such as carbon and oxygen, and estimate the temperature of the atmosphere with depth.
They can then use this information to make inferences about the planet’s overall makeup, as well as how, when, and where it formed.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)