James Webb Space Telescope Discovers New Exoplanet

  • 15 Sep 2023

Recently, in a groundbreaking discovery, astronomers using NASA's James Webb Space Telescope identified an Earth-like exoplanet located millions of light years away with conditions potentially suitable for supporting life.

Key Points

  • "Dimethyl Sulphide" (DMS) Discovery: The discovery is centred around the presence of the molecule "Dimethyl Sulphide" (DMS), typically associated with environments conducive to sustaining life similar to Earth. However, further data is needed to confirm these findings.
  • Location and Name of the Exoplanet: Preliminary estimates place this exoplanet, designated "K2-18b," approximately 120 light years from Earth.
  • Presence of Greenhouse Gases: Methane and carbon dioxide, both greenhouse gases vital for supporting life, have been identified in the planet's atmosphere, suggesting the presence of water on K2-18b.
  • It could potentially be a Hycean exoplanet with a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and a water ocean-covered surface.
  • Characteristics of K2-18b: K2-18b orbits the cool dwarf star K2-18 in the habitable zone.
  • It is nearly nine times the size of Earth and meets criteria necessary to support life, including temperature, carbon presence, and liquid water.
  • James Webb Space Telescope's Role: The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is uniquely equipped to analyze light passing through the atmospheres of distant planets.
  • Impact of the Discovery: Confirmation of DMS on K2-18b could solidify the belief that the planet can sustain life.
  • The discovery underscores the capabilities of the JWST in exploring distant planets with minimal light reaching the telescope due to their great distance.