November 28, 2022

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The James Webb Telescope detects chemical reactions in the atmosphere of an exoplanet |  Technique

The James Webb Telescope detects chemical reactions in the atmosphere of an exoplanet | Technique

Astronomers have pointed the new James Webb telescope at an exoplanet 700 light-years from Earth. The telescope has detected chemical reactions in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, the European Space Organization reports ESA.

The exoplanet being studied is called WASP-39b and was discovered in 2011 thanks to the WASP project. This is a research program to find planets around other stars. The exoplanet is a gas giant roughly the weight of Saturn and the size of Jupiter.

WASP-39b is very close to its star. The orbit is only four days. Because of the short distance from its star, it is extremely hot on the planet. The temperature in the atmosphere exceeds 900 degrees. Earlier, the James Webb telescope had already detected it in the atmosphere of an exoplanet Carbon dioxide is present.

Scientists already suspect that chemical reactions occur in the atmosphere under the influence of energy from the star. This was confirmed by the James Webb telescope.

The telescope waited for the planet to pass in front of its star as seen from Earth. Then the star illuminates the planet’s atmosphere. Using special measuring instruments, the James Webb Telescope was able to take measurements of light. Using those photometric measurements, Webb was able to determine the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

All kinds of chemicals have been found in WAPS-39b’s atmosphere that could only be created by the energy and light that the star emits. “This is the first time we’ve seen concrete evidence of photochemistry, which are chemical reactions produced by high-energy starlight on exoplanets,” said Shang-Min-Cai, an astronomer at the University of Oxford.

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According to Tsai, the images and measurements from the James Webb Telescope are promising. According to the researcher, the telescope will increase our knowledge of exoplanets and their atmospheres.

The James Webb Telescope is the most powerful space telescope ever built and has been searching the universe since July. In recent months, this has already resulted in many unique images from space.