NASA’s JWST data continues to provide amazing discoveries. In July, we observed the exoplanet WASP-39 b, discovering atomic and molecular fingerprints and active chemical reactions in its clouds. Now, the team of scientists is extending its findings with a deeper analysis of the data.
According to Dr. Natalie Batalha of the University of California, Santa Cruz, JWST data is a game changer. “We have observed exoplanets with multiple instruments. Together these instruments provide a broad infrared spectrum and a set of previously inaccessible chemical fingerprints. [this mission],” she said.
Observations in July were quite exciting. JWST near-infrared spectrometer (NIRSpec) instrument records First clear evidence of carbon dioxide (CO2) In the atmosphere of an exoplanet. It also detected sulfur dioxide (SO) in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time.2, a component of the smog here on Earth).so2 It is produced by chemical reactions triggered by high-energy light from the planet’s stars. On Earth, the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere is created in a similar way.
The next step was to do a coordinated analysis of all NIRSpec data. Results released this week provide a clearer and richer understanding of the planet’s thick atmosphere.
How JWST obtained WASP-39 b data
WASP-39b is not exactly an Earth-like planet. Instead, it’s a gas giant with about the same mass as Saturn. That’s because Mercury is closer (0.0486 astronomical units) to her G-type star than our Sun, and makes one revolution of her Earth in her four days. The planet turned out to be a very bloated world, mainly due to its high temperature (871 degrees Celsius or 1600 degrees Fahrenheit). Most of this is known from previous observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Kepler Space Telescope.
JWST tracked planets as they passed in front of their stars. Starlight passed through the atmosphere, and different gases there absorbed different colors of the starlight spectrum. This is how NIRSpec detected water, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, sodium, and potassium on her WASP-39 b.We also provided data on CO2 at very high resolution. Finally, the instrument revealed active chemicals in the cloud. Instead of covering the planet with one monolithic layer, it appears to be broken and scattered.
what the atmosphere tells us
Now that astronomers have a good inventory of chemical elements on WASP-39 b, they’ll also see how abundant each chemical is in its atmosphere. Valuable information. Among other things, it provides clues to the conditions within the disks in which the planets, their stars, and other planets formed. In fact, gases in WASP-39 b’s atmosphere provide hints about its history of collisions and mergers.
“Abundant sulfur [relative to] Hydrogen indicated that the planet likely experienced significant accretion of transportable planetesimals [these ingredients] Kazumasa Ohno, an exoplanet researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who worked on the NIRSpec measurements, said: “The data also show that oxygen is much more abundant than atmospheric carbon. This could indicate that WASP-39 b originally formed far from its central star. there is potential.”
WASP-39b results hit the press
The atmospheric chemistry research conducted by JWST has been the subject of review and publication of five scientific papers. They contain some pretty amazing revelations. Shang-Min Tsai, a researcher at the University of Oxford, UK, and lead author of a forthcoming paper, said: paper. “I think this is a very promising prospect for improving our understanding of exoplanet atmospheres. [this mission]”
The accuracy with which NIRSpec can detect so many atmospheric signatures bodes well for future exoplanet research. This is especially true when astronomers are looking for planets that may harbor life. Their atmosphere contains chemical clues to their life. “We’ll be able to see the full picture of the exoplanet’s atmosphere,” said Laura Flagg, a Cornell University researcher and member of the international team. It’s one of the best parts of being a scientist.”
NASA web reveals exoplanet atmosphere like never seen before (including links to scientific papers)