NASA astronomers have taken the first-ever direct Image of the distant world using James Webb Space Telescope. The huge telescope captured the direct image of a planet outside the solar system. Known as exoplanet, it is an unhabitable gas giant which has no rocky surface.
The image, as seen through four different light filters, shows how Webb’s powerful infrared gaze can easily capture worlds beyond the solar system. It is a precursor to future observations that will reveal more information than ever before about exoplanets, according to NASA.
“This is a transformative moment, not only for Webb but also for astronomy generally,” said Sasha Hinkley, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, who led these observations with a large international collaboration. Webb is an international mission led by NASA in collaboration with its partners, European Space Agency ESA and Canadian Space Agency CSA.
The exoplanet in Webb’s image, called HIP 65426 b, is about six to 12 times the mass of Earth. It is very young in age — about 15 to 20 million years old, far younger than the 4.5-billion-year-old Earth.
Webb’s view, at longer infrared wavelengths, reveals new details that ground-based telescopes would not be able to detect because of the intrinsic infrared glow of Earth’s atmosphere.
Researchers have been analyzing the data from these observations and are preparing a paper that they will submit to journals for peer review. But Webb’s first capture of an exoplanet already hints at future possibilities for studying distant worlds.
Taking direct images of exoplanets is challenging because stars are so much brighter than planets. The HIP 65426 b planet is more than 10,000 times fainter than its host star in the near-infrared, and a few thousand times fainter in the mid-infrared.
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