NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope continues to make exciting new discoveries.
On Wednesday, researchers confirmed the existence of an exoplanet, a first for the Webb telescope.
What is an exoplanet?
An exoplanet is a planet outside of our solar system that orbits another star, according to NASA.
NASA described LHS 475 b, the exoplanet that was confirmed by the Webb telescope, as a “small, rocky planet” that is almost the same size as Earth.
The planet is located in the constellation Octans, 41 light-years away.
A whole new world!— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) January 11, 2023
41 light-years away is the small, rocky planet LHS 475 b. At 99% of Earth’s diameter, it’s almost exactly the same size as our home world. This marks the first time researchers have used Webb to confirm an exoplanet. https://t.co/hX8UGXplq2 #AAS241 pic.twitter.com/SDhuZRfcko
How did the Webb telescope confirm an exoplanet?
Researchers used data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, that had suggested that the planet might exist, according to CNN.
Using Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph, the research team was able to confirm the existence of the planet.
What is the significance of the exoplanet discovery?
The discovery of an exoplanet by NASA’s Webb telescope may be the first in many similar discoveries.
“These first observational results from an Earth-size, rocky planet open the door to many future possibilities for studying rocky planet atmospheres with Webb,” Mark Clampin, Astrophysics Division director at NASA, said in a press release.
“Webb is bringing us closer and closer to a new understanding of Earth-like worlds outside our solar system, and the mission is only just getting started.”