Thursday, September 1, 2022

WEBB'S FIRST IMAGE OF A PLANET OUTSIDE OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

Amazing is an understatement!  Here it is, the first direct image of an exoplanet (a planet outside our solar system) photographed by the James Webb Space Telescope.  The exoplanet in the image, named HIP65426 b, is a gas giant, meaning it has no rock surface and could not be habitable.  It is six to eight times the mass of Jupiter.  As a planet it is young, 15 to 20 million years old, compared to our 4.5 billion year old Earth.

 The image, seen through four different light filters, shows how Webb's powerful infrared gaze can easily capture worlds beyond our solar system, pointing the way for future observations that will reveal more information about exoplanets than ever.

 "I've spent the past five years preparing for these observations and seeing them is not only exhilarating, but exceeds expectations," said Carter, one of the Webb researchers.  There are many more images of exoplanets to come that will shape our general understanding of their physics, chemistry and formation ”.

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 Credits: NASA / ESA / CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team and A. Pagan (STScI)] James Webb Telescope (image shows the exoplanet in different infrared light bands. These images look different because of the way the different Webb instruments capture light. The small white star drawn in each image marks the location of the host star HIP 65426, which was subtracted using coronographs).

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