James Webb Space Telescope discovers its first Earth-sized exoplanet.

It might be 41 light years away, but NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has discovered a exoplanet that is 99 per cent of Earth's diameter, further opening the door for the discovery of a planet like our own.

Key points:

  • Exoplanet LHS 475 b is 41 light years away
  • Among all operating telescopes, only JWST is capable of characterising the atmospheres of Earth-sized exoplanets
  • Researchers say the discovery opens the door for more Earth-sized planets to be found 
  • Christened LHS 475 b by the space agency, the exoplanet — any planet that exists outside our solar system — was detected by JWST's Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), which captured it easily, and clearly, with only two transit observations.

Not only was the Webb telescope able to identify LHS 475 b in the Octans constellation, but it was also able to detect a range of molecules that will help determine what the exoplanet's atmosphere might be.

Although the team cannot conclude what is present in the exoplanet's atmosphere, it can definitely say what is not present.

Source: www.abc.net.au


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