(Presidentialwire.com)- Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars and are roughly the same size as Earth but a few hundred degrees warmer, according to a discovery made by scientists using the James Webb Space Telescope on Wednesday.
Since the Webb Telescope first became fully operational in July, it was the first exoplanet identified using it, according to NASA.
According to a press statement from NASA Headquarters in Washington, these first observational data from an Earth-size, rocky planet “open the door to numerous future possibilities for investigating rocky planet atmospheres with Webb.”
Even though the mission has only just begun, Webb is helping us learn about Earth-like places outside of our solar system.
The planet, designated LHS 475 b by NASA, is 41 light-years away in the constellation Octans, which is not visible in the Northern Hemisphere and is 99% the size of Earth. It is also close to our solar system.
According to the telescope, the planet is several hundred degrees warmer than the Earth, so if clouds are found, scientists may conclude that the world is similar to Venus, which has a carbon dioxide atmosphere and is covered in dense clouds.
The team needs more accurate data to distinguish between a pure carbon dioxide environment and no atmosphere. According to NASA, the researchers are expected to receive additional data with subsequent observations this summer.
According to Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, co-leader of the research team from the Laurel, Maryland-based Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, “there are some terrestrial-type atmospheres that we can rule out.” It can’t have an atmosphere heavily dominated by methane, like Titan on Saturn’s moon.”
According to NASA, the planet does one round around the sun in under two days. Despite being closer to its star than any planet in our solar system, LHS 475 b could still have an atmosphere since its red dwarf star, classified as a yellow dwarf, is only half as hot as the Sun.