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On Thursday, NASA released an image taken by the James Webb Telescope showing the first-ever direct image of a planet outside our planet. Solar System.
NASA He says the exoplanet, HIP 65426 b, is a gas giant, meaning it has no rocky surface and cannot be habitable. The image can be seen through different bands of infrared light.
Sasha Hinckley, colleague professor of physics An astronomer at the University of Exeter in the UK, who led the observations, described the images as “a transformative moment, not only for Webb but also for astronomy in general.”
NASA says HIP 65426 b has a mass about six to 12 times the mass of Jupiter and is between 15 and 20 million years old. By comparison, the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. HIP 65426 b is also 100 times farther from its host star than Earth is from the Sun.
Astronomers discovered an exoplanet in 2017 using the SPHERE instrument at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The images were initially captured using short infrared waves of light.
Webb’s vision uses longer infrared wavelengths, revealing new details that ground-based telescopes have been unable to detect due to the intrinsic infrared glow of Earth’s atmosphere, NASA says.
The near-infrared webcam (NIRCam) and mid-infrared (MIRI) instrument are equipped with panes that block starlight – which is much brighter than planets – allowing direct images of exoplanets such as HIP 65426 b.
NASA says this breakthrough opens doors to future possibilities for studying distant worlds.
“I think the most exciting thing is that we’re just getting started,” said Erin Carter, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the image analysis. “There are more images of upcoming exoplanets that will shape our general understanding of physics, chemistry and morphology. We may discover previously unknown planets as well.”
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