Nov 22, 2022NASA’s Webb Reveals an Exoplanet Atmosphere as Never Seen BeforeLee esta historia en español aquí.NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope just scored another first: a molecular and chemical profile of a distant world’s skies.While Webb and other space telescopes, including NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer, previously have revealed isolated ingredients of this broiling planet’s atmosphere, the new readings from Webb provide a full menu of atoms, molecules, and even signs of active chemistry and clouds.The latest data also gives a hint of how these clouds might look up close: broken up rather than a single, uniform blanket over the planet.The telescope’s array of highly sensitive instruments was trained on the atmosphere of WASP-39 b, a “hot Saturn” (a planet about as massive as Saturn but in an orbit tighter than Mercury) orbiting a star some 700 light-years away.The findings bode well for the capability of Webb’s instruments to conduct the broad range of investigations of all types of exoplanets – planets around other stars – hoped for by the science community. That includes probing the atmospheres of smaller, rocky planets like those in the TRAPPIST-1 system.“We observed the exoplanet with multiple instruments that, together, provide a broad swath of the infrared spectrum and a panoply of chemical fingerprints inaccessible until [this mission],” said Natalie Batalha, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who contributed to and helped coordinate the new research. “Data like these are a game changer.”The suite of discoveries is detailed in a set of five new scientific papers, three of which are in press and two of which are under review. Among the unprecedented revelations is the first detection in an exoplanet atmosphere of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a molecule produced from chemical reactions triggered by high-energy light from the planet’s parent star. On Earth, the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere is created in a similar way.“This is the first time we see concrete evidence of photochemistry – chemical reactions initiated by energetic stellar light – on exoplanets,” said Shang-Min Tsai, a researcher at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and lead author of the paper explaining the origin of sulfur dioxide in WASP-39 b’s atmosphere. “I see this as a really promising outlook for advancing our understanding of exoplanet atmospheres with [this mission].”This led to another first: scientists applying computer models of photochemistry to data that requires such physics to be fully explained. The resulting improvements in modeling will help build the technological know-how to interpret potential signs of habitability in the future.“Planets are sculpted and transformed by orbiting within the radiation bath of the host star,” Batalha said. “On Earth, those transformations allow life to thrive.”The planet’s proximity to its host star – eight times closer than Mercury is to our Sun – also makes it a laboratory for studying the effects of radiation from host stars on exoplanets. Better knowledge of the star-planet connection should bring a deeper understanding of how these processes affect the diversity of planets observed in the galaxy.To see light from WASP-39 b, Webb tracked the planet as it passed in front of its star, allowing some of the star’s light to filter through the planet’s atmosphere. Different types of chemicals in the atmosphere absorb different colors of the starlight spectrum, so the colors that are missing tell astronomers which molecules are present. By viewing the universe in infrared light, Webb can pick up chemical fingerprints that can’t be detected in visible light.Other atmospheric constituents detected by the Webb telescope include sodium (Na), potassium (K), and water vapor (H2O), confirming previous space and ground-based telescope observations as well as finding additional fingerprints of water, at these longer wavelengths, that haven’t been seen before.Webb also saw carbon dioxide (CO2) at higher resolution, providing twice as much data as reported from its previous observations. Meanwhile, carbon monoxide (CO) was detected, but obvious signatures of both methane (CH4) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) were absent from the Webb data. If present, these molecules occur at very low levels.To capture this broad spectrum of WASP-39 b’s atmosphere, an international team numbering in the hundreds independently analyzed data from four of the Webb telescope’s finely calibrated instrument modes.“We had predicted what [the telescope] would show us, but it was more precise, more diverse, and more beautiful than I actually believed it would be,” said Hannah Wakeford, an astrophysicist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom who investigates exoplanet atmospheres.Having such a complete roster of chemical ingredients in an exoplanet atmosphere also gives scientists a glimpse of the abundance of different elements in relation to each other, such as carbon-to-oxygen or potassium-to-oxygen ratios. That, in turn, provides insight into how this planet – and perhaps others – formed out of the disk of gas and dust surrounding the parent star in its younger years.WASP-39 b’s chemical inventory suggests a history of smashups and mergers of smaller bodies called planetesimals to create an eventual goliath of a planet.“The abundance of sulfur [relative to] hydrogen indicated that the planet presumably experienced significant accretion of planetesimals that can deliver [these ingredients] to the atmosphere,” said Kazumasa Ohno, a UC Santa Cruz exoplanet researcher who worked on Webb data. “The data also indicates that the oxygen is a lot more abundant than the carbon in the atmosphere. This potentially indicates that WASP-39 b originally formed far away from the central star.”In so precisely parsing an exoplanet atmosphere, the Webb telescope’s instruments performed well beyond scientists’ expectations – and promise a new phase of exploration among the broad variety of exoplanets in the galaxy.“We are going to be able to see the big picture of exoplanet atmospheres,” said Laura Flagg, a researcher at Cornell University and a member of the international team. “It is incredibly exciting to know that everything is going to be rewritten. That is one of the best parts of being a scientist.”The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).Media Contacts:Rob GutroNASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.[email protected]Christine PulliamSpace Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.[email protected]Last Updated: Nov 22, 2022Editor: Jamie Adkins
An infographic titled "Hot Gas Giant Exoplanet Wasp-39 B Atmosphere Compositions" that shows four graphs from Webb's different instruments.The atmospheric composition of the hot gas giant exoplanet WASP-39 b has been revealed by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. This graphic shows four transmission spectra from three of Webb’s instruments operated in four instrument modes. At upper left, data from NIRISS shows fingerprints of potassium (K), water (H2O), and carbon monoxide (CO). At upper right, data from NIRCam shows a prominent water signature. At lower left, data from NIRSpec indicates water, sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), and carbon monoxide (CO). At lower right, additional NIRSpec data reveals all of these molecules as well as sodium (Na).Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, J. Olmsted (STScI)
New images from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveal for the first time galaxies with stellar bars—elongated features of stars stretching from the centers of galaxies into their outer disks—at a time when the universe was a mere 25% of its present age. The finding of so-called barred galaxies, similar to our Milky Way, this early in the universe will require astrophysicists to refine their theories of galaxy evolution.
“JWST is a very sensitive micrometeoroid detector.” – NASA’s Jonathan Gardner, discussing performance of JWST, including micrometeoroid impacts on its mirrors, during an #AAS241 town hall meeting.He adds that JWST overall is working “very, very, very well.” #AAS241NASA’s Jane Rigby says JWST downlinks 57 GB/day of data through the Deep Space Network. Some challenges with DSN being oversubscribed at times, particularly during Artemis 1 that results in changes in JWST observing plans. #AAS241
Six months after the release of the first science images from the James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers and NASA officials say the observatory continues to exceed expectations while providing lessons for future space telescopes.Talks and other presentations at the 241st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) here Jan. 9 highlighted both the science produced by JWST since it started regular operations last summer as well as the status of the telescope itself.The conference, the largest annual gathering of astronomers, was the first since the July 12 release of the first science images that generated worldwide headlines. It came after years of conferences where astronomers instead heard about the potential of the telescope, as well as its delays and technical problems.
Researchers have confirmed the presence of an exoplanet, a planet that orbits another star, using the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope for the first time. Formally classified as LHS 475 b, the planet is almost exactly the same size as our own, clocking in at 99% of Earth’s diameter.
Yes. It is Guest Observer proposal 1618 It will use MIRI and its coronagraph to directly image alpha Cen A.Note: it has a 12-month proprietary period, so public results might not be this year.https://www.stsci.edu/jwst/science-execution/program-information.html?id=1618--- Tony
Quote from: jebbo on 01/13/2023 06:24 amYes. It is Guest Observer proposal 1618 It will use MIRI and its coronagraph to directly image alpha Cen A.Note: it has a 12-month proprietary period, so public results might not be this year.https://www.stsci.edu/jwst/science-execution/program-information.html?id=1618--- TonyWhat was the exact month if not date it's going to look at Centauri A? I'm having trouble pinning that date down.
ABSTRACTAlpha Centauri A is the closest solar-type star to the Sun and offers an unique opportunity to detect both a mature gas giant planet (consistent with existing radial velocity constraints) and a zodiacal dust cloud. A carefully planned observational sequence using the MIRI Coronagraph (F1550C) and innovative post-processing would be sensitive down to a radius limit of 0.5~0.7 R-Jupiter for planets within ~3 AU (~2.5”) around alpha Cen A where models predict a region of stability against disruption by alpha Cen B. These same observations would be sensitive to a level of zodiacalemission only a few times brighter than that of the Sun’s, an unprecedented level not even achieved by ground based interferometers. The proposed observations would probe the limit of JWST high contrast imaging on a star that offers the best chance for the ultimate detection of Earth analogs by future ground and/or space based facilities. The experiment is admittedly high risk, but the prospect of directly imaging a planet around our closest stellar neighbor is an exciting one.
They are also going to try to image the zodiacal light. Question: Are trace CFC gases in the zodiacal light something they could register with the spectrometer at this distance? There are obvious world-shattering implications if they see any...