James Webb Space Telescope discovers light on an Earth-like planet for the first time ever

Featured Image Credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty/NASA

The discovery marks the latest made by the James Webb Space Telescope since it launched in 2021

Yet another groundbreaking discovery about the cosmos has been made thanks to NASA’s James Webb Telescope.

When it comes to new discoveries out in in space, we have James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to thank a lot of the time after it was launched in 2021.

In just over a year since JWST was propelled into space, it has seen a lot – like a star being born 1,300 light years away from Earth or a star on the cusp of death.

Furthermore, the extremely advanced telescope has captured several high resolution images of galaxies, black holes and much more.

The impressive work of the JWST doesn’t stop there, as it has also made a significant contribution to the field of physics.

The telescope has made some amazing discoveries.

ESA/Webb, NASA and CSA, A. Martel

And now in one of its latest discoveries, Webb has followed up on the work of NASA’s infrared Spitzer Space Telescope.

Some eight years ago, Spitzer discovered seven planets orbiting the same star, which later became known as TRAPPIST-1 in the science community.

The star, which is about 40.7 light-years away from Earth, was discovered some 24 years ago.

And with how impressive the advanced telescope is, researchers have been able to investigate one of the planets that was found.

An illustration of the rocky, Earth-like planet TRAPPIST 1-b.

NASA, ESA, CSA, J. Olmsted (STScI)

TRAPPIST-1 b is Earth-like in its composition, while it’s also believed to be a similar size to our planet.

The latest findings have been well and truly groundbreaking, as it is the first time any light has been detected as being emitted from another planet outside of our solar system.

In a press release, NASA said: “The result marks an important step in determining whether planets orbiting small active stars like TRAPPIST-1 can sustain atmospheres needed to support life.

“It also bodes well for Webb’s ability to characterise temperate, Earth-sized exoplanets using MIRI.”

The latest discovery is ground-breaking.

Arianespace, ESA, NASA, CSA, CNES

Thomas Greene, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Ames Research Center and lead author on the study published in the journal Nature, added: “These observations really take advantage of Webb’s mid-infrared capability.

“No previous telescopes have had the sensitivity to measure such dim mid-infrared light.”

Unfortunately, the planet has no atmosphere, with scientists finding out one side is in permanent darkness and the other facing its star at all times.

“There are ten times as many of these stars in the Milky Way as there are stars like the Sun, and they are twice as likely to have rocky planets as stars like the Sun,” Greene added.

“But they are also very active ­– they are very bright when they’re young, and they give off flares and X-rays that can wipe out an atmosphere.”

Topics: Science, Space, NASA

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