Launched last Christmas, the space telescope james webb represents new firsts. This time it was his first instant image from a planet outside the solar system, and the chosen one is HIP65426ba gas giant and therefore not habitable.
This exoplanet was discovered in 2017, has between six and 12 times the mass of Jupiter and, compared to Earth’s age, 4.5 billion years, can be said to be young, between 15 and 20 million years.
Although it had already been observed by the Very large telescope of the Central European Observatory (ESO) in Chile, the images from four of the James Webb instruments reveal new details that could not be captured by ground-based telescopes.
This is “a transformative moment not just for the Webb, but for astronomy in general”in the words of Sasha Hinkley of the University of Exeter (UK), who led the observations.
The exoplanet is about a hundred times farther from its parent star than Earth is from the sun, which means allows to clearly separate both bodies through the new telescopeborn from the collaboration of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
In each image, the exoplanet appears as a light spot of slightly different shape, due to the idiosyncrasies of the telescope’s optical system and how the light translates through the various optical sensors, ESA explained in a statement.
“Getting this image was like searching for space treasures”explains Aarynn Carter of the University of California (US), who led the analysis of the images.
The scientist, quoted by NASA, said she could initially only see the light from the star, “but with careful image processing, I was able to remove it and discover the planet.” He also believed there will be “many more images” that “will shape our understanding” of the physics, chemistry and formation of exoplanets.