Carbon dioxide exists in the atmosphere of an exoplanet

The James Webb Space Telescope made a discovery that is unprecedented in the history of astronomy. For the first time, we now have conclusive evidence that carbon dioxide exists in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. We are discussing planet WASP-39b, which is 700 light-years away from Earth.

Carbon dioxide exists there
Source: Nasa

Why is the recent discovery so crucial? Because this is the first time we have evidence that carbon dioxide is present on extrasolar planets. This is the first time proof like this has been confirmed by telescope observations, despite the certainty of scientists. In addition to providing answers, the photographs from the James Webb Space Telescope also reveal a mystery…

Let’s begin with the fact that WASP-39b is an extremely observable item. It is fourteen times the size of Earth and somewhat larger than Jupiter. Moreover, it orbits near to its star, therefore it is brightly lighted. This allowed scientists to determine the makeup of the planet’s atmosphere. At extremely particular frequencies, certain elements and molecules absorb a portion of the light spectrum as it passes through them. Consequently, the composition of the atmosphere may be determined by examining what reaches the telescope.

Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared light, therefore typical “losses” in this spectrum were discernible in photographs taken in this spectrum. Natalie Batalha of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a team of over one hundred researchers reviewed the telescope data and came to the conclusion that CO2 was present.

Scientists have discovered something more, but they do not know precisely what it is because their equipment was not designed to detect an anomaly of this nature. Other particles, which create mists or clouds, are also obstructing the light spectrum, but at frequencies not predicted by the model. Therefore, it is possible that the atmosphere of WASP-39b is composed of extremely rare elements that scientists did not expect to find, or molecules created under unusual conditions about which we know little.

Can life exist there? Certainly not in the form we are familiar with on Earth. The temperature of 900 degrees Celsius is unwelcome, but it cannot be asserted with absolute certainty that it is physically impossible.

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