The James Webb Telescope has detected carbon monoxide on an exoplanet

JWST data showed an unmistakable feature of carbon dioxide on an exoplanet called WASP-39b. (Photo: NASA/Google Arts & Culture)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) first discovered The presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, Any planet outside our solar system, a discovery that demonstrates the enormous capabilities of a completely new scientific device and excites experts in the search for extraterrestrial life.

The planet in question, called WASP-39b, is a hot gas giant. which has the mass of Saturn and where life as we know it is impossible. It orbits near a sun-like star 700 light-years away. from Earth. This discovery indicates that these observations can also occur on rocky planets, with the ultimate goal of determining whether or not one is one of them. Shelter conditions are favorable for life.

He declared, “For me, it is a door that opens to future studies of the super-Earth, and even of the Earth.” Pierre Olivier Leggean astrophysicist with the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and one of the three co-authors of these works published in the scientific journal Nature.

The transmission spectrum of the hot gas giant exoplanet WASP-39 b reveals the first clear evidence of carbon dioxide on an exoplanet (NASA, ESA, CSA, Leah Hostak (STScI), Joseph Olmsted (STScI)
The transmission spectrum of the hot gas giant exoplanet WASP-39 b reveals the first clear evidence of carbon dioxide on an exoplanet (NASA, ESA, CSA, Leah Hostak (STScI), Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

My first reaction was: Oh my God, we really do have the ability to detect the atmospheres of planets the size of Earth.‘ commented on it Twitter Professor of astrophysics Natalie Pathalha of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), who leads the team of astronomers that made the discovery. “The JWST data showed a clear advantage of CO2 that was so prominent that it practically screamed at us,” he said. The discovery of carbon dioxide will also allow us to learn more about the composition of WASP-39 b, which was discovered in 2011, NASA said. This planet was chosen based on several criteria that made it easier to observe. At a time when scientists are still assessing the capabilities of the telescope, which revealed its first images less than two months ago.

for your comments, James Webb uses the transit method, that is, when a planet passes in front of its star, the telescope picks up the resulting tiny difference in luminosity. Next, it analyzes the “filtered” light through the planet’s atmosphere. Various particles in the atmosphere leave specific marks that allow to determine their composition. The Hubble and Spitzer telescopes have already detected water vapor, sodium and potassium in the atmosphere of this planet, but James Webb was able to move forward thanks to his colossal infrared sensitivity.

What does the curve of light look like as a planet passes over a star, in the eyes of James Webb
What does the curve of light look like as a planet passes over a star, in the eyes of James Webb

using JWST’s Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec), The team obtained a high-resolution “transmission spectrum” showing the light transmitted through WASP-39b’s atmosphere separated into component wavelengths. Patalha said the data resulted in “Brilliant optical curves” and showed that the NIRSpec instrument exceeds transmission spectroscopy predictions. This bodes well for monitoring small, rocky planets, which would be expected to have carbon dioxide in their atmosphere (when they have an atmosphere) but would not give a signal as strong as a giant planet like WASP-39b.

In a NASA statement, Zafar Rostomkulov, of Johns Hopkins University, commented on what he felt when the presence of carbon dioxide was clearly demonstrated: “It was a special moment, reaching a turning point in exoplanet science.” “The JWST data showed an unmistakable CO2 feature that was so prominent that it practically screamed at us.Carbon dioxide is a major component of the planetary atmospheres of our solar system, which is present in them rocky planets like Mars and Venus, As well as in gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn. For exoplanet researchers, it is important as a gas they are likely to be able to detect in small rocky planets and as an indicator of the general abundance of heavy elements in the atmospheres of giant planets.

The discovery of carbon dioxide will also allow us to learn more about the composition of WASP-39 b, which was discovered in 2011, NASA said.
The discovery of carbon dioxide will also allow us to learn more about the composition of WASP-39 b, which was discovered in 2011, NASA said.

Co-author Jonathan Fortney, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCLA and director of the Other Worlds Laboratory, said. Gas giant stars and planets consist mainly of the lightest elements, hydrogen and helium.Fortney explained that the abundance of heavier elements, which astronomers call “metallic,” is a critical factor in planet formation.

The ability to select The amount of heavy elements in the planet is necessary to understand how it formed, And we will be able to use this CO2 meter for a group of exoplanets to develop a comprehensive understanding of the formation of giant planets. “Fortney noticed that WASP-39b appears to have a composition similar to that of Saturn. Saturn’s metallic is 10 times that of the Sun, and WASP-39b also appears to be about 10 times richer in heavy elements than the Sun. “This is very interesting, and we would like to know if all the planets with the mass of Saturn have the same metal,” he said. “It was interesting to see this in another system, because we didn’t know what to expect when we moved from the planets of our solar system to the atmospheres of exoplanets.”

WASP-39b is located in the constellation Virgo, and is more than 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun. Although it has about the same mass as SaturnAnd the It is less dense and about 50 percent larger, likely due to the higher temperature due to its close proximity to its host star. Previous observations have shown that the sky is relatively clear, making it a good target for transmission spectroscopy and detailed compositional insights.

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