NASA’s Webb Telescope Confirms First Exoplanet

NASA's Webb Telescope Confirms First Exoplanet
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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has given the first confirmation of an exoplanet. An exoplanet is a planet orbiting a star outside our solar system.

The American space agency says the exoplanet is almost the same size as Earth.

To verify, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland examined the new data collected by Webb.

Past observations by another NASA telescope have provided some evidence that the exoplanet exists. But Webb’s approval made the discovery official.

The other space telescope is called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS. TESS was launched in 2018 with the aim of discovering other planets outside our solar system.

The exoplanet was named LHS 475 b. Researchers said it was pretty close to Earth for an exoplanet. It is located about 41 light-years away in the constellation of Octans. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year.

Detection of exoplanets is difficult for telescopes. One reason is that the bright light from the stars they orbit can obscure them. The search process involves observing decreases in the light level of stars. Such dips can be caused by a planet passing in front of or transiting a star.

The researchers said they were able to confirm the existence of the exoplanet using Webb’s transit observation method. They said the confirmation came quickly after just two crossing events.

NASA said the Webb telescope was developed to provide a high level of detail in its observations. It is equipped with the latest technology to observe infrared waves. These waves are a type of electromagnetic energy invisible to the human eye. NASA says the telescope’s instruments can detect infrared waves through gas and dust to observe distant objects.

Jacob Lustig-Yaeger led the research. The telescope data makes it easy to make clear verification, he said in a statement. “There is no doubt that the planet is there.”

The finding was recently presented at a conference of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington.

Another leader of the team, Kevin Stevenson, added that he found the approval.influential“Because the exoplanet is small and rocky, which makes identification difficult.

Of all NASA’s telescopes in operation, only Webb is equipped to gather information about the atmospheres of exoplanets. But in this case, the researchers said they don’t have enough data to confirm what atmosphere LHS 475b has.

Scientists often use computer models and telescope data to study the atmospheres of exoplanets. Erin May, another member of the research team, said the Webb telescope can easily identify a number of different molecules. “But we can’t yet definitely results about the atmosphere of the planet,” he added.

While the researchers say they can’t confirm what’s in the exoplanet’s atmosphere, they’re very confident about what isn’t. For example, LHS 475 b cannot have a thick atmosphere that is mostly methane, Lustig-Yaeger said.

The team even noted that it’s possible that the exoplanet may have no atmosphere at all. Some of the available data suggest that the exoplanet may have a pure carbon dioxide atmosphere. But the researchers said they plan to collect more data in future observations to help them learn about atmospheric conditions.

NASA says It has confirmed more than 5,000 exoplanets so far. But Lustig-Yaeger noted that the Webb telescope is much better equipped for detecting small, rocky exoplanets. He said this will likely lead to much more exoplanet confirmations.

And Lustig-Yaeger added, “We’ve only just begun. scraping the surface about what their atmosphere might be like.”

I am Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English based on reports from NASA.

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Words in This Story

influential – adj. make a good or distinctive impression

definitely – adj. clear and unlikely to change

solution – n. an opinion that is reached after considering all the information about something

scratch the surface – idiom. dealing with only a small part of an issue or problem


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