The Webb Telescope has confirmed the existence of an exoplanet for the first time since the launch of the space observatory in December 2021.
The world, known as LHS 475 b, is almost exactly the same size as Earth and is located 41 light-years away in the constellation of Octans.
Scientists still can’t determine whether the planet has an atmosphere, but the telescope’s sensitive capabilities picked up on an array of molecules. Webb will have another chance this summer in the United States to observe the planet to build on this data.
The exoplanet was just one of Webb’s cosmic discoveries announced this week at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.
What’s more, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, mission has spied a second Earth-sized exoplanet in an intriguing planetary system 100 light-years away — and the world could potentially be habitable.
Since the 1990s, astronomers have used ground-based and space-based telescopes to search for signs of planets beyond our tiny corner of the universe.
Last year, NASA confirmed that there are more than 5,000 known worlds beyond our solar system.
Exoplanets are notoriously difficult to image directly because they are so far away from Earth.
But scientists know the signs, looking for wobbles in stars as orbiting planets use their gravitational pull, or dips in starlight as planets pass in front of their stellar hosts.
It is highly likely that there are hundreds of billions of exoplanets waiting to be discovered.
Part of the excitement around the James Webb Space Telescope is its ability to observe the atmospheres of potentially habitable planets and discover new worlds. This week, the space observatory certainly delivered.
Source: CNN Brasil
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