Drawing attention as a state-of-the-art telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) once again proves its outstanding performance by detecting for the first time the presence of molecules and photochemical reactions not captured by any telescope in Saturn’s atmosphere outside its constellation. The system is 700 light-years away.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Webb telescope has comprehensively analyzed the atmosphere of WASP-39 b, a gas giant planet orbiting a sun-like star, and summarized the findings in five research articles published in the online journal Archive. (arXiv.org), which contains pre-release documents.
|▲ “Hot Saturn” WASP-39 700 light-years away, as seen by Webb b.|
The existence of WASP-39 b was confirmed in 2011, when ground-based telescopes detected a slight dip in starlight as it passed in front of the star.
Since then, the Hubble Space Telescope has been moved to discover some of the individual atoms that make up the atmosphere, but it has not been able to capture molecules in which atoms combine or photochemical reactions like the Webb Space Telescope.
The Webb telescope first detected the presence of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in WASP-39 b’s atmosphere when it began large-scale scientific observations in July.
When WASP-39 b, classified as “hot Saturn,” passes in front of the star once every four days, the Webb telescope uses infrared spectroscopy to determine atmospheric components of the light from the star as it passes through the atmosphere. Each component of the atmosphere absorbs a different color like a fingerprint, and this has been used.
One of the most interesting components of the atmosphere captured by the Webb telescope was sulfur dioxide (SO2). Sulfur dioxide is produced by chemical reactions of high-energy light from stars, and on Earth, the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere was formed in a similar way.
The co-author of the study, Dr. Diana Powell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Earth’s climate is also determined by photochemical reactions, so there are more common factors than we thought.” The Webb telescope also confirmed sodium (Na), potassium (K) and water vapor previously identified by other telescopes and found additional traces of water that had not been carried away. To this limit.
It also confirmed the presence of twice as much carbon dioxide as previously observed.
In addition, carbon monoxide (CO) was also captured, but the presence of methane (CH4) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) was not clearly detected, so it was analyzed that even if they were present in the atmosphere, they would be low-temperature. levels.
WASP-39 b orbits its star one-eighth the distance Mercury is from the Sun, so it is exposed to intense radiation and temperatures of up to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit (871 degrees Celsius), making it an uninhabitable planet.
The mass is similar to that of Saturn, but the size is similar to that of Jupiter.
Nevertheless, the observations are accepted as evidence of the ability to analyze the atmospheres of relatively small, Earth-sized planets that scientists are targeting, such as the rocky planets in the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system.
Astrophysicist Hannah Wakeford of the University of Bristol, UK, praised the telescope, saying, “We expected what the Webb telescope could show us, but it was more accurate, more diverse, and better than we thought.”
Science team [email protected]
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