The James Webb Space Telescope has made the first clear detection of carbon dioxide in deep space, quite far from Earth , and there is an unexpected increase in its data. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has detected carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet 700 light-years away called WASP-39b . This is the first time the compound has been found on any exoplanet, and the observations have also revealed clues to a mystery on distant planets.
The WASP-39b is quite large. It has a mass similar to that of Saturn and 1.3 times the diameter of Jupiter. It orbits relatively close to its star and maintains an average temperature of around 900°C . This high temperature inflates the atmosphere and makes it easier for the James Webb Space Telescope to see the starlight shining through it.
Natalie Batalha of the University of California at Santa Cruz and a team of more than 100 researchers analyzed data from the James Webb Space Telescope and ran it through four separate algorithms to make sure the results were the same regardless of how the data was processed. All four showed the clear signature of carbon dioxide . Batalha said, “The carbon dioxide signature was screaming at us. It wasn’t hard to process the data. It was easy, simple and really nice.” said.
Something Is Absorbing Starlight in WASP-39b
The researchers found that WASP-39b has more carbon and oxygen than its host star, revealing that it did not form when the gas around the star suddenly collapsed, but instead first formed its rocky core and then collected the gas that formed its atmosphere. This is similar to how we think about how planets in our own Solar system form, and studying an exoplanet’s atmosphere in more detail can reveal more details about how and where they formed.
Besides carbon dioxide, the researchers found another sign in their data that something unexpected in WASP-39b’s atmosphere was absorbing some of the starlight. “There’s something else out there, another molecule or some kind of cloud or haze. That’s something that wasn’t predicted by the fundamental model , ” Kempton said. said. Researchers are not yet sure what this mysterious molecule might be, but they are trying to figure it out with additional data from the James Webb Space Telescope and different models.