The telescope of the POT, James Webb, captured a detailed molecular and chemical portrait of a planet that is located 700 light years from Earth. The celestial body, called WASP-39b, is as big as Saturn, but it is in a much closer orbit to its star, which makes it reach temperatures of 871 degrees Celsius.
These new readings managed to discover the entire composition of its atmosphere, including atoms, molecules, cloud formation, and even signs of photochemistry, a product of its proximity to the star. According to Natalie Batalha, who contributed to this discovery of the POT: “Information like this can change the rules of the game.”
“We observed the exoplanet with different instruments that, together, provide a wide swath of the infrared spectrum and a panoply of chemical signatures that were inaccessible until this mission,” said the scientist. in a statement from the POT. In this they stressed the importance of the James Webb telescope, which has been in orbit for a little less than a year and has already changed the way in which the universe can be appreciated.
According to Shang-Min Tsai, a researcher at the University of Oxford, this discovery has as its main point that it is: “The first time we have seen concrete evidence of photochemical activity, chemical reactions initiated by energetic starlight, on exoplanets. I consider this a really promising perspective to advance with this mission in our understanding of the atmosphere of exoplanets”, explained the researcher from the aerospace agency.
The utility of this
Although the discovery of an exoplanetary composition seems important, it has an extra section that could allow the development of the human race outside the earth in the future, since the more information is available, the better the models will be to discover potential habitable planets in the future..
“They are sculpted and transformed by their orbit within the radiation bath they receive from their host star. On Earth, these transformations allow life to prosper,” Batalha said in the press release. the american agency.