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The James Webb Telescope takes its first direct image of a planet outside the solar system

Launched last Christmas, the James Webb Space Telescope is facing new challenges. This time it was its first direct image of a planet outside the solar system and the chosen one was HIP 65426 b, a gas giant and therefore uninhabitable. This exoplanet was discovered in 2017, it has a mass six to twelve times that of Jupiter and compared to the age of the Earth – 4500 million years, it can be said to be young. It is 15 to 20 million years old.

Although it has already been observed by the Central European Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile, the images provided by James Webb’s four instruments reveal new details that cannot be captured by telescopes on the ground.

This is “a transformative moment, not just for the web, but for astronomy in general,” says Sasha Hinckley of the University of Exeter, UK, who led the observations. The discovery “shows the future possibilities of the web for studying distant worlds”, they indicate from the Twitter account of the NASA telescope.

The gaseous planet is hundreds of times farther from its host star than Earth is from the Sun, allowing the two bodies to be clearly separated by a new telescope created by a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canada. Space Agency (CSA).

In each image, the exoplanet appears as a patch of light in a slightly different shape, due to the peculiarities of the telescope’s optical system and the transmission of light through different optical sensors, ESA explained in a statement.

“Getting this image is like a space treasure hunt,” explained Arin Carter of the University of California, who led the analysis of the images. “Why don’t they look like the images of our solar system taken by Juno or Cassini?” Space is big, exoplanets are small and they are very far away from us! “Don’t forget that we didn’t get our first detailed look at Pluto until 2015,” they explain from the NASA report.

The scientist, quoted by NASA, said that at first he only saw light from the star, “but with careful image processing I was able to remove it and discover the planet.” In addition, he reckoned there are “many more images” ahead that will “shape our understanding” of the physics, chemistry and formation of exoplanets.

Source: El Diario





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