James Webb was the first to detect carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet The sciences

James Webb was the first to detect carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet  The sciences

Unlike the cooler, more compact gas giants of our solar system, the planet is partially inflated and has a high temperature of around 900 degrees Celsius.

In a statement published on the Goddard Space Flight Center website, the US space agency (NASA) announced that the agency’s James Webb telescope has detected carbon dioxide for the first time in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet, WASP-39 b, about 700 light-years from Earth. Located in and orbiting a Sun-like star.

Accordingly Statement The discovery, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Nature, has been provisionally published on the website. Archive (arXiv) provides evidence that the Webb Telescope will be able to detect and measure carbon dioxide in the thin atmospheres of small rocky planets in the future, and data extracted from the James Webb Telescope provides important information about planet composition and evolution. .

Features of the discovered planet

According to a NASA statement, the discovered planet is a giant, hot gas planet with a quarter of Jupiter’s mass (about the same as Saturn) and 1.3 times the mass and diameter of Jupiter. One-eighth of the distance between its star and the Sun and Mercury. Completes a cycle in just 4 ground days.

Unlike the cooler, more compact gas giants of our solar system, the planet is characterized by extreme swelling and high temperatures estimated at around 900°C.

Previous observations by telescopes, including NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, had revealed the presence of water vapor, sodium and potassium in the planet’s atmosphere, but this time, thanks to the sensitivity of the James Webb Telescope, it was possible to go deeper into it. Great infrared capability. The presence of carbon dioxide was also found on the planet.

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The researchers used the James Webb Telescope’s Nearspace Spectrograph to analyze the light spectrum (Wikimedia).

First clear detection of carbon dioxide

According to a NASA statement, WASP-39 b was discovered in 2011, based on precise ground observations, thanks to the periodic dimming of its host star’s light during the planet’s transit in front of the star.

It is known that this planet-like transit allows the planets to observe their orbits from the edge rather than from above, so it provides researchers with ideal opportunities to explore planetary atmospheres, so the planet “WASP-39″ b” ) is an ideal target for spectroscopy, with its atmosphere combined with frequent transits. A As the planet passes in front of its star, it completely blocks some of the star’s light (causing total dimming) and transmits other light to us through the planet’s atmosphere.

Because different gases absorb different combinations of colors, researchers can determine exactly what the atmosphere is made of by analyzing small differences in the brightness of light emitted across a spectrum of wavelengths.

The science team used the NIRSPec spectrometer on the James Webb Telescope to analyze the light spectrum, particularly the near-infrared, as NASA said in a statement.

Image of the James Webb Space Telescope, current as of September 2009.  the above.  - NASA
James Webb hopes to provide insight into the details of how planets form (NASA)

Through this, the telescope was able to provide data about the planet by capturing the small difference in brightness that results from passing in front of its star, and then analyzing the light that the telescope “filtered” through the planet’s atmosphere. Particles in the atmosphere leave specific signatures that enable their composition to be determined, thus providing the first clear and detailed evidence of carbon dioxide detected on an extrasolar planet.

Other hopes and expectations

The discovery is expected to lead to measurements of the abundance of gases such as water, methane and carbon dioxide, NASA said in a statement.

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Carbon dioxide molecules are sensitive snippets of the planet’s formation story, says Mike Lane of Arizona State University, a member of the research team. Over the next decade, the Webb Telescope will make these measurements of various planets and provide insight into the details. About how planets form.

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