Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news about fascinating discoveries, scientific advances and more.
The James Webb Space Telescope has captured a detailed molecular and chemical portrait of a distant planet’s sky. scoring another first for the exoplanet science community.
Also known as Bocaprins, WASP-39b can be found orbiting a star about 700 light-years away. According to NASA, an exoplanet as large as Saturn but much closer to its host star and with an estimated temperature of 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit (871 degrees Celsius) emitted from its gas — a planet outside our solar system. This is “hot Saturn” It was one of the first exoplanets studied by the Webb telescope. when he first started his regular scientific activities.
The new readings provide a complete breakdown of the Bocaprins atmosphere, including the Bocaprins’ atoms, molecules, cloud formations (which appear to have fragmented instead of a single, uniform veil as scientists had previously expected) and even signs of photochemistry caused by their host star.
“We’ve observed the exoplanet with multiple instruments, which together provide a wide area of the infrared spectrum and a range of chemical fingerprints that are so inaccessible to[this mission],” said Natalie Batalha, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. contributed and helped coordinate new research, in a NASA publication. “Data like this changes the rules of the game.”
The new data provided the first indication in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, a molecule produced from chemical reactions triggered by the planet’s host star and its high-energy light. On Earth, the protective ozone layer of the atmosphere is similarly created by a photochemical reaction from heat and sunlight.
Bocaprins’ proximity to its host star makes it an ideal subject for studying such star-planet connections. The planet is eight times closer to its host star than Mercury is to our sun.
“This is the first time we have seen concrete evidence of photochemistry – chemical reactions initiated by energetic starlight – on exoplanets,” Shang-Min Tsai, a researcher at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a NASA publication. “I see this as a really promising outlook for advancing our understanding of exoplanet atmospheres.”
Other compounds detected in Bocaprin’s atmosphere include sodium, potassium and water vapor, which confirms previous observations made by other space and ground-based telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope.
Having such a complete list of chemical components in an exoplanet’s atmosphere offers insight into how this planet – and perhaps others – formed. The diverse chemical inventory of Bocaprins shows that numerous small bodies, called planetesimals, combine to form an eventual giant of a planet similar in size to the second largest planet in our solar system.
“This is just the first of many exoplanets to be studied in detail by JWST. “We’re already getting very exciting results,” Nestor Espinoza, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, told CNN. “This is just the beginning.”
The findings are favorable to suggest the ability of Webb’s instruments to probe exoplanets. Revealing a detailed descriptor of an exoplanet’s atmosphere, the telescope has performed beyond scientists’ expectations and promises a new phase of exploration over a wide variety of exoplanets in the galaxy, according to NASA.
“We’ll be able to see the big picture of exoplanet atmospheres,” Laura Flagg, a Cornell University researcher and member of the international team that analyzed data from Webb, said in a statement. “It’s incredibly exciting to know that everything is going to be rewritten. That’s one of the best things about being a scientist.”
Leave a Comment