NASA has revealed that the James Webb Space Telescope has spotted signs of water on a planet more than a thousand light-years away.
he US space agency said its billion-dollar space telescope “captured the signature of water” on giant gaseous planet WASP 96-b, orbiting a star 1,150 light-years away.
“For the first time we have found evidence of clouds in the atmosphere of this exoplanet,” Nasa tweeted.
The revelation comes as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) share the first set of full-color images captured by the telescope, containing the deepest images of the universe ever taken.
The ultra-high resolution images also show stellar life cycles and interacting galaxies.
The incredible new batch of images includes a frothy blue and orange shot of a dying star.
The first image from the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope was released Monday at the White House — a jumble of distant galaxies penetrating deeper into the cosmos than mankind has ever seen.
The four additional photos released today contained more cosmic beauty shots.
With one exception, the latest images showed parts of the Universe seen by other telescopes. But Webb’s sheer power, remote location from Earth, and use of the infrared light spectrum showed them in a new light.
“Each image is a new discovery, and each one will give humanity a glimpse of humanity that we have never seen before,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, raving about images that “depict the formation of stars and the engulfing of black ones holes”.
Webb’s use of the infrared light spectrum allows the telescope to see through cosmic dust and “see light from faraway lights from the corners of the universe,” he said.
“We have really changed the understanding of our universe,” said Director General of the European Space Agency Josef Aschbacher.
The European and Canadian space agencies joined NASA in building the powerful telescope.
The images revealed today show:
- The Southern Ring Nebula, sometimes referred to as the “Eight Burst.” About 2,500 light-years away, it shows an expanding cloud of gas surrounding a dying star. A light year is 5.8 trillion miles.
- Carina Nebula, one of the bright stellar nurseries in the sky, about 7,600 light-years away.
- Five galaxies in a cosmic dance, 290 million light-years away. Stephan’s quintet was first seen 225 years ago in the constellation Pegasus.
- A bluish giant planet named WASP-96b, in whose atmosphere a signature of water has been detected. It is about the size of Saturn and 1,150 light-years away. As a gas planet, it is not a candidate for life elsewhere, but an important target for astronomers.
Webb was built to view its objects primarily in the infrared spectrum and is about 100 times more sensitive than its 30-year-old predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which works primarily with optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
The much larger light-gathering surface area of Webb’s primary mirror — an array of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-coated beryllium metal — allows objects to be observed farther away, and therefore further back in time, than Hubble or any other telescope.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/nasas-new-telescope-has-detected-signs-of-water-on-planet-a-thousand-light-years-away-41834896.html NASA’s new telescope has spotted signs of water on a planet a thousand light-years away