NASA's James Webb Telescope confirms its first exoplanet

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,565   +174
Staff member
In a nutshell: Researchers from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory have confirmed an exoplanet using NASA's James Webb Space Telescope for the first time. The team, led by Kevin Stevenson and Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, selected LHS 475 b after carefully reviewing targets from NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). LHS 475 b is located 41 light-years away in the constellation Octans. Webb's Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) was able to capture the exoplanet with only two transit observations on August 31, 2022.

Data confirmed the exoplanet is an Earth-sized terrestrial planet measuring 99 percent of Earth's diameter. What the team doesn't yet know is whether or not the planet has an atmosphere.

(As this spectrum shows, Webb did not observe a detectable quantity of any element or molecule. The data (white dots) are consistent with a featureless spectrum representative of a planet that has no atmosphere (yellow line). The purple line represents a pure carbon dioxide atmosphere and is indistinguishable from a flat line at the current level of precision. The green line represents a pure methane atmosphere, which is not favored since if methane were present, it would be expected to block more starlight at 3.3 microns.)

"The telescope is so sensitive that it can easily detect a range of molecules, but we can't yet make any definitive conclusions about the planet's atmosphere," said Erin May, also from the Applied Physics Lab. They were able to definitively rule out the possibility of a methane-dominated atmosphere like the one seen on Saturn's moon Titan.

(A light curve from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) shows the change in brightness from the LHS 475 star system over time as the planet transited the star on August 31, 2022.)

Webb further revealed that the exoplanet is a few hundred degrees warmer than Earth and completes a full orbit in just two days. It is closer to its star than any planet in our solar system but its red dwarf star is less than half as hot as the Sun, so the possibility of an atmosphere isn't off the table.

If clouds can be detected, it could mean the planet is more like Venus with a carbon dioxide atmosphere shrouded in thick clouds. NASA said even more precise measurements will be needed to determine if a pure carbon dioxide atmosphere is present. Fortunately, the team is scheduled to obtain more spectra through additional observations this summer.

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neeyik

Posts: 2,406   +2,939
Staff member
Research on the data (paper here) suggests the planet is likely to be tidally locked with the star-facing surface having a temperature of 586K (295°C), so it's a tad on the toasty side there.
 

Beerfloat

Posts: 583   +1,082
Research on the data (paper here) suggests the planet is likely to be tidally locked with the star-facing surface having a temperature of 586K (295°C), so it's a tad on the toasty side there.

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wiyosaya

Posts: 8,399   +7,817
Research on the data (paper here) suggests the planet is likely to be tidally locked with the star-facing surface having a temperature of 586K (295°C), so it's a tad on the toasty side there.
As an unscientific observation, I think most of the known extra-solar planets are not habitable by human standards. However, given the number of stars surveyed and the number of stars in our galaxy as well as the number of galaxies in the known universe, I think the probability of there being planets out there that are habitable by human standards is well beyond what what was thought possible when humanity had the audacity to think that there were no other planets in the cosmos. As I see it, humanity will eventually find those planets even if it is not in our lifetimes.
 

texasrattler

Posts: 1,374   +667
It's funny how so many look up at stars or look for new planets when all the have to do is look down and realize we truly know so little about our own world.
We still know next to nothing about our oceans and what's really down there. I don't mean the trash we put there either. There are creatures we didn't even know existed down there. Who knows what could exist or be possible but we can't or don't want to look.

While man has touched most land there are still some remote areas than man has never touched, may never.

One day we will touch the stars, if we haven't already.
 

psycros

Posts: 4,541   +6,828
It's funny how so many look up at stars or look for new planets when all the have to do is look down and realize we truly know so little about our own world.
We still know next to nothing about our oceans and what's really down there. I don't mean the trash we put there either. There are creatures we didn't even know existed down there. Who knows what could exist or be possible but we can't or don't want to look.

While man has touched most land there are still some remote areas than man has never touched, may never.

One day we will touch the stars, if we haven't already.

Nice closing. I am more for the "lost civilizations" way of thinking myself - the steady stream of new discoveries keeps adding more weight to the idea. I feel that inevitably we'll unearth something that proves beyond doubt that modern man was doing very advanced things not long after the last ice age, if not before it. With practical knowledge being so unappreciated now we should never forget that we're one major calamity from being hunter-gatherers again.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 8,399   +7,817
It's funny how so many look up at stars or look for new planets when all the have to do is look down and realize we truly know so little about our own world.
We still know next to nothing about our oceans and what's really down there. I don't mean the trash we put there either. There are creatures we didn't even know existed down there. Who knows what could exist or be possible but we can't or don't want to look.

While man has touched most land there are still some remote areas than man has never touched, may never.

One day we will touch the stars, if we haven't already.
Well, untouched by man is no longer a factor. Go anywhere on Earth, and you will find particulate that some industrial process spewed into the atmosphere and then the atmosphere carried it to the remotest, untouched by man, regions of the Earth. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20141104-is-anywhere-free-from-pollution

Maybe this one falls into your category of waste in the ocean but its still a remote area where no such waste should exist - https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48230157

I do agree, however, that there are still undiscovered species on Earth.
 

texasrattler

Posts: 1,374   +667
Nice closing. I am more for the "lost civilizations" way of thinking myself - the steady stream of new discoveries keeps adding more weight to the idea. I feel that inevitably we'll unearth something that proves beyond doubt that modern man was doing very advanced things not long after the last ice age, if not before it. With practical knowledge being so unappreciated now we should never forget that we're one major calamity from being hunter-gatherers again.
Yeah, no doubt. So much has either been lost, forgotten, rewritten or simply omitted over time. Why, we may never know those answers truly. However, we may find evidence that Atlantis, lost civilizations or even find new ones that we never knew existed.
Kinda why I say if we look at our own planet, there is still plenty to discover. Afterall, the history of this planet isn't all that known. From regilion to down right facts that Columbus didn't discover anything. To the simple facts that Washington wasn't the first president. There were as many as 15 I believe.
I believe Washington was the first president under the United States but not the first president overall. Most schools never or don't even teach that. No school ever said or told me this. I learned it over time, on my own.
 

Thanthan

Posts: 107   +221
Nice closing. I am more for the "lost civilizations" way of thinking myself - the steady stream of new discoveries keeps adding more weight to the idea. I feel that inevitably we'll unearth something that proves beyond doubt that modern man was doing very advanced things not long after the last ice age, if not before it. With practical knowledge being so unappreciated now we should never forget that we're one major calamity from being hunter-gatherers again.

So the reason we keep finding stone tools and clay kitchenware from the last ~ 100.000 years is that they had flying cars? Bar a massive amount of volcanic and tectonic activity it is literally impossible to hide a civilisation that has gone industrial. It would be easily visible as a massive concentration of iron in the geological record in a very narrow band of strata, which is not something we see. You would also expect easy evidence in coal, oil and gas deposits. It’s a cute hypothesis for philosophy or sci-fi, but there is no evidence to support it on earth.
 

Nictron

Posts: 7   +1
TechSpot Elite
So the reason we keep finding stone tools and clay kitchenware from the last ~ 100.000 years is that they had flying cars? Bar a massive amount of volcanic and tectonic activity it is literally impossible to hide a civilisation that has gone industrial. It would be easily visible as a massive concentration of iron in the geological record in a very narrow band of strata, which is not something we see. You would also expect easy evidence in coal, oil and gas deposits. It’s a cute hypothesis for philosophy or sci-fi, but there is no evidence to support it on earth.

The major diffidence between our civilisation and the older advanced civilisations is slavery. The romans had the steam engine. I think Mesopotamia had batteries and electricity. These technologies however did not find traction because of slavery entrenched economic activities and interests. Innovation was greatly curtailed due to slavery and constant warfare as well.

I think the older civilisations were quite advanced in other ways even with slavery in place. I personally as a Christian and Bible referencer see the “great men of old” as those advanced collaborative societies and civilisations. Genesis 6

Best regards,


 

Hodor

Posts: 394   +283
Maybe there's intelligent life on the planet too. Wouldn't that be great. But if we send a probe there and the probe finds oil, diamonds, gold or lithium reserves on that planet, they are f..cked.