September 30, 2022

NASA's James Webb Telescope captured the first image of an exoplanet

NASA’s James Webb Telescope captured the first image of an exoplanet

NASA agency James Webb Space Telescope Take the first direct photos of a planet outside our solar system.

The planet, named HIP 65426 b, is a gas giant without a rocky surface, which means it likely cannot support alien life, according to astronomers who Description of images in a NASA blog post Posted Thursday. Scientists are preparing a paper on the observations, but the results have not been peer-reviewed.

However, the observations are noteworthy because they hint at how the Webb telescope can be used to search for potentially habitable planets elsewhere in the universe.

“This is a transformative moment, not only for Webb but also astronomy in general,” Sasha Hinckley, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Exeter in the UK, said. He said in a statement. Hinkley led HIP Notes 65426 b with an international team.

An exoplanet is located about 355 light-years from Earth and was first discovered in 2017. According to NASA. The gas giant has a mass 12 times that of Jupiter and its orbit is about 100 times farther from its host star than Earth is from the Sun.

NASA said the Webb Telescope will be able to gather new details about HIP 65426 b, including a more accurate measurement of its mass and age. Astronomers estimate that the exoplanet is between 15 and 20 million years old, which means that it is a relatively young world compared to Earth, which is 4.5 billion years old.

The Hubble Space Telescope has taken direct images of exoplanets before, but they are still difficult to achieve from space because stars usually outnumber planets. In the case of HIP 65426 b, the astronomers said, the exoplanet is 10,000 times dimmer than its host star in near-infrared light.

“Getting this image looked like a treasure hunt in space,” said Aryn Carter, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz who led the analysis of the images, in a statement. “Initially all I could see was the light coming from the star, but through careful image processing, I was able to remove that light and discover the planet.”

The resulting image shows HIP 65426 b through four different optical filters captured by the Webb’s near-infrared camera and mid-infrared instrument.

The The telescope’s infrared “eyes” can see through dust and gas, making them able to pick up on objects and features outside of human vision. Both the near-infrared camera and the mid-infrared machine are also equipped with so-called voids that help block out starlight.

The $10 billion Webb Telescope was launched into space on December 25, 2021 The first batch of images from the observatory Released in July, early scientific processes have already yielded tantalizing discoveries.

“I think what is most exciting is that we are just getting started,” Carter said in the statement. “There are more images of upcoming exoplanets that will shape our general understanding of physics, chemistry and morphology. We may discover previously unknown planets as well.”