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3rd September 2022 (6 Topics)

Webb telescope captures its first image of exoplanet

Context

The James Webb space telescope has taken its first image of an exoplanet -- a planet outside our solar system.

About

  • Webb telescope has pictured ‘HIP 65426 b’ through four different light filters.
  • The exoplanet ‘HIP 65426 b’ is younger but bigger than Earth.
  • It is about 6 to 12 times the mass of Jupiter and about 15 to 20 million years old, Earth is 4.5-billion-year-old.
  • The exoplanet called 'HIP 65426 b' is a gas giant, meaning it has no rocky surface and could not be habitable.
  • NASA says that these observations could help to determine the size and age of the planet much more precisely.

What is an exoplanet?

  • According to NASA, exoplanet is a planet that is orbiting other stars beyond our solar system.
  • NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has shown that the galaxy has more numbers of planets than stars. The elements of these planets are similar to the planets of our solar system, although they do not necessarily revolve around any stars, as there are some exoplanets which are free floating and orbit around the galactic centre.
  • NASA estimates that apart from iron or carbon, some may have an abundance of water or ice.

Significance of the image:

  • The first confirmed discovery of exoplanets was long before in the 1990s, but this is the first direct observation by JWST telescope of any planet beyond our solar system.
  • The planet was discovered in 2017 using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.
  • Images of it were taken in short infrared wavelengths back then, but newer ones taken by Webb at longer infrared wavelengths have helped reveal new details that ground-based telescoped were unable to detect.
  • The exoplanet is composed mainly of gas, which means it has no rocky surface and is uninhabitable.

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