Astronomers study the climate on other planets with the help of the James Webb telescope

(ORDO NEWS) — The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. This gives the telescope a great advantage over ground-based observatories, which are forced to look into space through our planet’s atmosphere.

The JWST also collects five times more light than the Hubble Space Telescope, allowing it to detect faint signals from distant worlds using its spectroscopic capabilities.

Earlier this year, astrophysicists using JWST observed an exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star 700 light-years away.

The JWST observatory made it possible to study a wider range of molecules in the atmosphere of WASP-39b, including carbon dioxide, the presence of which may indicate the existence of organic life on the planet.

“Before the James Webb Space Telescope, only a very small number of molecules could be observed, such as water, carbon monoxide and sodium,” said Jeremy Leconte, an astrophysicist at the University of Bordeaux.

“This is a game changer. We really need to look at the planets around stars close to us. This is our best chance to characterize their vibe.”

In particular, Leconte is interested in 7 rocky planets that orbit the dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, located at a distance of 40 light years.

Planets exist in the habitable zone, where temperatures allow water to remain liquid. Leconte developed a 3D simulator (as part of the WHIPLASH project) to run tests on simulated planets with known characteristics, such as the presence of liquid water.

Thousands more exoplanets are likely to be discovered in the coming years. Some answers to questions about distant exoplanets may lie in the solar system, on the four largest planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Lee Fletcher, a planetary scientist at the University of Leicester, leads the GIANTCLIMES project, which studies their changing atmospheres.

Uranus and Neptune are the most distant planets in the solar system. These ice giants are made up primarily of hydrogen, helium, and other gases such as methane.

Saturn is known to have massive storm systems and Neptune can have methane snowstorms. The key variable in weather conditions is always temperature.

Progress has been made in publishing the first ever maps of atmospheric temperatures in the stratosphere of Uranus. Scientists have discovered amazing seasonal circulation systems and bright spots over the poles.

Neptune’s atmosphere showed significant storm and weather activity, but the team was surprised by the discovery that the planet appeared to be cooling during the summer rather than warming up.

GIANTCLIMES is setting the stage for JWST observations. The new telescope has already observed Jupiter and will turn to Uranus and Saturn in the near future, and then to Neptune in early 2023.


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