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James Webb Telescope finds an Exoplanet bigger than Jupiter outside our Solar System

James Webb Telescope finds an Exoplanet: James Webb Telescope has captured the first image of an Exoplanet, a planet-like body lying outside the realm of our Solar System. The Exoplanet dubbed HIP 65426 b is 12 times larger than Jupiter, which is the largest planet in the Milky Way. The world’s most powerful telescope captured the image of an Exoplanet and clicked a direct image of the planet from outside the Solar System. The addition of the new Exoplanet named HIP 65426 b will be featured in the catalogue of exoplanets, which has already crossed the 5000 mark.

The planet was first spotted in 2017 using theSPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. However, this is the first time that it has been captured directly as an image using the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI)  onboard the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Last week, NASA also announced the discovery of WASP-39 b, a carbon dioxide giant which was found outside the Solar System.

About Exoplanet HIP 65426 b

As per the observations shared by scientists, the Exoplanet HIP 65426 b is younger, as compared to Earth but is large in terms of size. The total mass of the newly found Exoplanet is around 6 to 12 times Jupiter – the largest planet in our Solar System. In terms of age comparison, the new planet is only 15 to 20 million years old, while Earth is 4.5 billion-year-old.

The observed planet is believed to be a gas giant with no rocky surface, which makes it inhabitable. The planet is located 315 lightyears away and is orbiting at a significant distance from its Star, allowing the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to take a picture of the same. The distance between HIP 65426 b and its star is about 100 times that which is between Earth and Sun.

  • Name: HIP 65426 b
  • Nature: Gas Giant with no Rocky Surface
  • Habitable: No
  • Age: 15 to 20 Million Years Old
  • Size: 6 to 12 times Jupiter
  • Distance: 315 Lightyears away
  • Distance from Star: 100 times that of Earth and Sun

Significance of the Discovery

The presence of Exoplanets – the planetary bodies that lie outside our Solar System was established in the 1990s. But the discovery of HIP 65426 b is the first such discovery made by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Generally, scientists and astronomers rely on ‘Observing Wobble’ or Shadow method to identify and discover exoplanets. Another method which has been popularized recently to discover exoplanets is the Gravity lens in which the bending of light gives evidence of the planet’s existence. But the power James Webb Space Telescope allows for Direct Imagery, wherein exoplanets are captured as a picture or image.

The biggest challenge while using the direct imagery technique for discovering Exoplanets is that the light from the surrounding star overwhelms the light from the planet; making it nearly impossible to find the planet. But with the advanced optics system of JWST, scientists have been able to capture such minute reflections from the exoplanet, leading to the discovery of HIP 65426 b. This also opens up avenues for more such discoveries in the future.

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