The James Webb Space Telescope has discovered a new exoplanet. This is the first such “discovery” made by this device. LHS 475 b, as this object is called, is unique in that it is very similar to Earth.
LHS 475 b is an exoplanet discovered with the James Webb Space Telescope. It is unique because it is very similar to Earth. Its diameter is 99% the same as the diameter of our planet.
The discovery was made by a team of scientists led by Kevin Stephenson and Jacob Lustig-Yeager of Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Maryland. The researchers first observed the object using the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and then used the James Webb Telescope’s NIROSpec spectrometer for further observations that confirmed the planet’s existence.
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There is no doubt that the planet exists. Lustig-Yaeger said Webb’s original data support this.
Being able to use the James Webb Space Telescope brings humanity closer to understanding Earth-like planets far beyond our solar system, said Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“These first observations of a rocky Earth-sized planet open the door to many future opportunities to study the atmospheres of rocky planets using Webb,” commented Mark Clampin.
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The James Webb Space Telescope is the only telescope in use that can analyze the composition of the atmospheres of newly discovered planets. It does this by studying the light coming from the star around which such a planet orbits.
In the case of LHS 475 b, this fails. Additional notes will be needed. For now, it has been ruled out that the planet does not have a methane-dominated atmosphere, such as the atmosphere on Saturn’s moon Titan. The next observations, which may be able to confirm or deny the presence of an atmosphere on the newly discovered planet, are planned for the summer of 2023.
By now, we already know some interesting facts about LHS 475 b first – the year goes by pretty quickly there. It takes only two Earth days for the planet to orbit the star. It is also much warmer there than on Earth – up to several hundred degrees Celsius. On further research, it may turn out that this planet is more like Venus than Earth.
LHS 475 b orbits closer to its star than any planet in the Solar System. However, at the center of its system is a red dwarf that is cooler than half of it sun. For this reason, scientists believe that this object may have an atmosphere.
Karol Kotofsky, journalist at Wirtualna Polska
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