Exoplanets James Webb space Telescope

Webb: WASP-96b the most detailed spectrum of an exoplanet atmosphere

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At Astronomy Now:

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has demonstrated its unprecedented ability to analyse the atmosphere of a planet more than 1,000 light-years away. With the combined forces of its 270-square-foot mirror, precision spectrographs, and sensitive detectors, Webb has – in a single observation – revealed the unambiguous signature of water, indications of haze, and evidence for clouds that were thought not to exist based on prior observations. The transmission spectrum of the hot gas giant WASP-96 b, made using Webb’s Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph, provides just a glimpse into the brilliant future of exoplanet research with Webb.

A transmission spectrum made from a single observation using Webb’s Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) reveals atmospheric characteristics of the hot gas giant exoplanet WASP-96 b. ILLUSTRATION: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured the distinct signature of water, along with evidence for clouds and haze, in the atmosphere surrounding a hot, puffy gas giant planet orbiting a distant Sun-like star.

The observation, which reveals the presence of specific gas molecules based on tiny decreases in the brightness of precise colors of light, is the most detailed of its kind to date, demonstrating Webb’s unprecedented ability to analyze atmospheres hundreds of light-years away.

In a demonstration of its intelligent design and remarkable functionality, the James Webb has obtained an analysis of an exoplanet’s atmosphere!

8 Replies to “Webb: WASP-96b the most detailed spectrum of an exoplanet atmosphere

  1. 1
    JHolo says:

    This is an amazing leap. The final test will be to see if it can detect atmospheric composition on rocky planets.

  2. 2
    Fasteddious says:

    As I understand it, we still cannot “image an extrasolar planet”, as in, take a picture of it. What we have here instead is a careful snatch of a changing spectrum as the planet passes in front of the star. Since the peaks match up with the known absorption spectrum of water, and since water (presumably) does not exist on the star, they surmise that it is in the atmosphere of the planet. Presumably that spectrum disappears when the planet is not in front of the star.
    There may be a couple of examples of careful photos showing an extrasolar planet as a faint dot beside its star, but there are no photos (yet that I know about) of planets showing any detail. If I am wrong about this, please provide a link.

  3. 3
    Caspian says:

    Thanks for providing a helpful clarification about exoplanet imaging vs. the spectrographic measurement.

  4. 4
    chuckdarwin says:

    In a demonstration of its intelligent design and remarkable functionality, the James Webb has obtained an analysis of an exoplanet’s atmosphere!

    Why does UD always have to throw in the gratuitous reference to “intelligent design?” The Webb telescope was obviously designed (and built) with some level of intelligence, by humans. Which of course, begs the question of why the reference to ID in the first place? No one’s claiming that it was randomly thrown together by chimpanzees, although, who knows? Given enough time……….

  5. 5
    relatd says:

    CD at 4,

    And you just gave it all away… News at 11, Space Telescope Thrown Together by Chimpanzees..

    There’s nothing gratuitous in mentioning Intelligent Design. But for you, it’s a point of irritation. Quick. Who designed and built your computer? Who designed and built living things?

  6. 6
    Caspian says:

    To CD at 4,
    I believe that you have caught on to the main point. For if humans owe their origin to unguided natural forces, then so does the James Webb Space Telescope. Does this sound reasonable?

  7. 7
    doubter says:

    Caspian@6

    Hear, hear!

  8. 8
    chuckdarwin says:

    Caspian/6
    It is unclear to what you are referring as the “main point.” My point is simply that offering up the Webb telescope as a “demonstration of intelligent design” adds nothing of substance to the article by Astronomy Now.

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