The James Webb Space Telescope is a marvel of technology. He just discovered CO2 in a planet’s atmosphere.
The James Webb Space Telescope continues to amaze. After the first fantastic shots, located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, the device has focused on high-speed missions that do not require very long exposures and whose data can be processed almost immediately.
During one of these experiments, the space telescope pointed to an exoplanet (a planet outside our solar system). Wasp 39b is located 700 light-years from Earth and is a gas giant larger and heavier than Saturn. This planet orbits very close to its celestial body, even closer than Mercury, allowing it to circumnavigate it in 4 days. On the surface, the temperature is around 900 degrees.
CO2 as proof of James Webb’s power
Close to its star, the exoplanet is easily observable thanks to the transit method, making it an ideal candidate for this observation. An experiment that will confirm the expectations of scientists. Wasp 39 b really has a CO2-filled atmosphere. Such a discovery is great news for space research, as this gas has never been found outside our solar system.
With this first discovery, James Webb proves to be able to analyze this subtlety. If Wasp 39b seems incapable of harboring life, it will be the first in a long list of exoplanets to be scoured by James Webb. Nobody hides it, expectations and ambitions around the James Webb are high.
Is there life away from our sun?
The space telescope should, no more, no less, answer the question of whether life is unique on Earth? Are we an anomaly in a cold, empty universe, or are we just a grain of sand in an ocean of life? A question that has not yet been answered, but we seem closer than ever to the goal.
Experiments conducted on Jupiter’s moons, such as Enceladus, tend to show that life can exist beyond Earth in our solar system. With James Webb, the whole question is whether this life can develop elsewhere or whether our solar system is the invader. By observing distant systems (eg 700 light years), scientists rule out the possibility of “terrestrial contamination” in the event that life is discovered on one of these exoplanets.
They also hope that these distant life forms are more evolved than just cells or bacteria.