James Webb managed to record his first image of an exoplanet

The James Webb Space Telescope captured its first direct image of an exoplanet, proving its ability to revolutionize exoplanet knowledge.

BingMag.com James Webb managed to record his first image of an exoplanet

The James Webb Space Telescope captured its first direct image of an exoplanet, proving its ability to revolutionize exoplanet knowledge.

Most exoplanets have only been detected through the temporary dimming of the stars they orbit, and so far only about twenty exoplanets have been directly imaged.

But such a process may soon occur. to change Less than two months after the James Webb Space Telescope began scientific operations, this powerful observatory captured its first direct image of a planet beyond our solar system.

This planet is a gas giant orbiting a star. Named HIP 65426, it orbits at a distance of 385 light-years from Earth and is seen in the recorded image as a small speck close to the bright star.

Web using the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and the Infrared Instrument Middle" (MIRI), each of which focuses on a different part of the infrared spectrum, managed to record a photo of this exoplanet.

"Sasha Hinkley" (Sasha Hinkley), an astronomer at the University of Exeter in the UK and the head of these observations. He said about the research: "This is a key moment not only for the web, but for astronomy."

Scientists discovered the planet in 2017 with the help of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. had done The web, however, is not designed to discover new exoplanets, but instead will help scientists get more detailed information about the most important known exoplanets.

Exoplanets are very difficult to observe directly because they are much fainter than their parent stars. are. For this reason, the planet HIP 65426 b is visible only thanks to a combination of different factors. First, it is very far from its mother star and has a distance of about 100 times the distance from the Sun to the Earth (100 AU). For comparison, it should be noted that Pluto is only 40 AU from the Sun. In addition, the mass of HIP 65426 b is very high and about 12 times the mass of Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system.

Despite these favorable conditions, the exoplanet HIP 65426 b is about 10 thousand times fainter than its host star in near-infrared spectrum, and a few thousand times fainter in the mid-infrared part of the spectrum. But due to its high sensitivity, the web was able to separate these two crimes well.

BingMag.com James Webb managed to record his first image of an exoplanet

Aarynn Carter, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who analyzed the images, said of the results: "Getting this image was like digging for space treasure. At first, I could only see the light of the star, but with careful image processing, I was able to remove the excess light and identify the planet." Or they are "coronators" that block the light of the central star. According to Hinckley, the performance of these coronagraphs was extraordinary.

By observing the star through four different filters, the scientists finally managed to produce images that show the planet as a small light bubble. The shape of the spot is slightly different in each image due to side effects of telescope optics.

HIP 65426 b is considered a very young planet, only 15 to 20 million years old. Meanwhile, the age of the earth reaches 4.5 billion years. Also, due to its gaseous nature, this planet certainly does not host life.

However, there are still many interesting questions, including the chemical composition of exoplanets, both about this planet and about many other worlds, which have attracted astronomers. has been busy, and Webb can answer some of them with his other pictures in the future.

Photo: Exoplanet HIP 65426 b as seen by James Webb
Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team, and A. Pagan (STScI)

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