James Webb detects chemical reaction in an exoplanet’s atmosphere for the first time – IT Pro – News

The James Webb telescope has captured the chemical profile of an exoplanet’s atmosphere, ESA reports. In it, signs of an active chemical reaction in such an exoplanet were discovered for the first time.

Astronomers made this discovery in the atmosphere of WASP-39b, an exoplanet 700 light-years from Earth. The James Webb telescope provided a glimpse of the components of the planet’s atmosphere and identified a large number of components, including sulfur dioxide. This is a molecule that results from chemical reactions. Such a reaction is triggered by the light coming from the star close to the planet. WASP-39b orbits its star in just four Earth days and has a surface temperature of 900 degrees, Nature writes.

Chemical reactions are suspected to occur in an exoplanet’s atmosphere, but this is the first time there has been concrete evidence of photochemistry on exoplanets. According to the European Space Agency, the findings can be used to increase our knowledge of exoplanet atmospheres. The data may also contribute to the technological knowledge needed to interpret signs of habitability on planets.

Scientists made the discovery using three of James Webb’s measuring instruments. The telescope was able to observe starlight as it filtered through WASP-39b’s atmosphere. Based on this, a team of more than 300 astronomers was able to find water, carbon monoxide, sodium and potassium, in addition to the aforementioned sulfur dioxide. Carbon dioxide has already been found.

James Webb of French Guiana was released on Christmas Day last year after years of delays. The telescope has now reached its final orbit around point L2. In July, NASA published The first images from the space telescope. Recently, the telescope also captured the Pillars of Creation and New images of the Tarantula Nebula installed. Tweakers was published earlier this year Backstory on James Webb.

Artist’s impression of exoplanet WASP-39b. Source: NASA, ESA, CSA and J. Olmsted

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