The observation is the most detailed of its kind to date, demonstrating Webb’s unprecedented ability to analyse distant atmospheres, according to NASA.
The atmosphere of a hot, puffy gas giant planet orbiting a Sun-like star more than 1,000 light years away has been found to contain traces of water as well as evidence for clouds and haze, according to NASA. This discovery was made on Wednesday.
According to NASA, the observation is the most thorough of its sort to date and highlights Webb’s unmatched capacity to analyse far-off atmospheres. There are more than 5,000 known exoplanets in the Milky Way, including WASP-96 b. It represents a form of gas giant that has no direct counterpart in our solar system and is around 1,150 light-years away in the southern-sky constellation Phoenix, the organisation stated in a statement.
With less than half the mass of Jupiter and 1.2 times the diameter, WASP-96b is much larger than any planet orbiting our Sun. At temperatures above 538 degrees Celsius, it gets quite hot. According to NASA, WASP-96b orbits a star like the Sun very close, with a distance of only one-ninth between Mercury and the Sun, orbiting once every three and a half days of the Earth. I am.
The combination of large size, short orbital period, bloated atmosphere, and lack of contaminated light from objects near the sky makes WASP-96b an ideal target for atmospheric observations. The Hubble Space Telescope has analyzed the atmosphere of numerous exoplanets over the past two decades, with the first clear water discovery in 2013, but Webb’s immediate and detailed observations of the Earth in June. It represents a major step forward in the quest to characterize potentially habitable planets beyond
. 21, Webb’s Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) measured light from the WASP-96 system for 6.4 hours as the planet moved across the stars. This resulted in a light curve showing the overall dimming of starlight during the transit, and a transmission spectrum revealing the brightness change of individual wavelengths of infrared light between 0.6 and 2.8 microns.
The light curve confirmed properties of the planet that had already been determined from other observations – the existence, size, and orbit of the planet.The transmission spectrum revealed the previously hidden details of the atmosphere: the unambiguous signature of water, indications of haze, and evidence of clouds that were thought not to exist based on prior observations.
A transmission spectrum is made by comparing starlight filtered through a planet`s atmosphere as it moves across the star to the unfiltered starlight detected when the planet is beside the star.Researchers are able to detect and measure the abundances of key gases in a planet`s atmosphere based on the absorption pattern – the locations and heights of peaks on the graph.
In the same way that people have distinctive fingerprints and DNA sequences, atoms and molecules have characteristic patterns of wavelengths that they absorb. The spectrum of WASP-96 b is not only the most detailed near-infrared transmission spectrum of an exoplanet atmosphere captured to date, but it also covers a remarkably wide range of wavelengths, including visible red light and a portion of the spectrum that has not previously been accessible from other telescopes, NASA said. This part of the
spectrum is particularly sensitive not only to water, but also to other important molecules such as oxygen, methane and carbon dioxide. Researchers can use spectra to measure the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, limit the abundance of various elements such as carbon and oxygen, and estimate the temperature of the atmosphere as well as the depth. You can then use this information to infer the overall composition of the planet and how, when, and where the planet was formed.