James Webb Space Telescope detects carbon dioxide in a distant planet’s atmosphere

They can create much more than just the universe. The observatory has for the first time found carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet outside of our solar system. It detected the gas on WASP-39 b, a gas giant orbiting a star about 700 light-years away.

The Hubble and Spitzer telescopes previously detected water vapour, sodium and potassium in the planet’s atmosphere. But JWST has more powerful and sensitive infrared capabilities and was also able to capture the signature of carbon dioxide.

“Understanding the composition of a planet’s atmosphere can help us learn more about its origin and evolution,” according to an official JWST . “Webb’s success here is evidence that in the future it may also be able to detect and measure carbon dioxide in the thinner atmospheres of smaller rocky planets.”

NASA spectroscopy data JWST taken from WASP-96 b, a gas exoplanet about 1,150 light-years away. The observatory detected “the distinct signature of water” along with haze and clouds not previously thought to exist on WASP-96 b.

Also this week, researchers discovered an exoplanet about 100 light-years away. It was spotted using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and ground-based telescopes rather than JWST, but it may deserve a closer look from the latter. Researchers believe water could make up as much as 30 percent of the mass of TOI-1452 b, which is considered a “super-Earth.” It’s about 70 percent larger than Earth and may have a “very deep ocean.”

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Russell Falcon

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