The researchers of the NASA confirmed the existence of a new exoplanet named LHS 475 b, orbiting another star, using the James Webb Space Telescope. It is the first distant world to encounter this instrument.
The exoplanet it is almost exactly the same size as Earth, clocking in at 99% of our planet’s diameteraccording to scientists Kevin Stevenson and Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, both of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
according to a report of the US space agency, the team chose to observe this target with James Webb after carefully reviewing the targets of interest from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which hinted at the planet’s existence.
Webb’s Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) captured the exoplanet easily and clearly with just two transit observations. LHS 475 b is relatively close, only 41 light-years away, in the constellation Octans.
Lustig-Yaeger expressed: “There is no doubt that the planet is there. Webb’s pristine data validates this. The fact that it is also a small, rocky planet is impressive for the observatory.”.
For his part, Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA headquarters in Washington, explained: “These first observational results of a rocky, Earth-sized planet open the door to many future possibilities for studying atmospheres of rocky planets with Webb, bringing us ever closer to a new understanding of Earth-like worlds outside our own. solar system, and the mission is just beginning”.
A two day orbit
The researchers also confirmed that the planet completes one orbit in just two daysinformation that was revealed almost instantly by Webb’s precise light curve.
Also, although LHS 475 b is closer to its star than any other planet in our solar system, its red dwarf star is less than half the temperature of the Sun, so the researchers project that it could still have an atmosphere.
The team also notes that while the planet may not have an atmosphere, there are some atmospheric compositions that have not been ruled out, like an atmosphere of pure carbon dioxide: “Counterintuitively, a 100% carbon dioxide atmosphere is so much more compact that it becomes very difficult to detect.”.
Webb also revealed that the planet is a few hundred degrees warmer than Earth, so if clouds are detected, the researchers can conclude that the exoplanet is more like Venus, that it has an atmosphere of carbon dioxide and is perpetually shrouded. in thick clouds