James Webb Space Telescope’s first science images and spectroscopic data
July 12, 2022
Global Korean Post
Today, a glimpse of the hidden universe was revealed through the release of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first science images and spectroscopic data.
Observations made by the powerful space telescope uncovered an array of spectacular cosmic features. Future discoveries enabled by Webb promise to redefine our understanding of the universe and our place in it.
An observation made by Canada’s Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) unambiguously confirmed the presence of water molecules in the atmosphere of WASP-96 b, an exoplanet in orbit around a Sun-like star located roughly 1,150 light-years from Earth.
This is the most detailed near-infrared transmission spectrum of an exoplanet atmosphere captured to date.
The Canadian-built instrument captured and broke apart the starlight flowing through the atmosphere of this hot gas exoplanet. This process allows researchers to obtain key information, especially the potential presence of life-supporting molecules like oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water.
NIRISS’s sensitive observation of WASP-96 b also contained evidence for haze and clouds, previously thought not to exist in the atmosphere of this planet.
Canada’s Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) was critical in producing these stunning data and images, thanks to its ability to remain locked on to guide stars for long periods of time while the telescope is in motion.
Designed to align Webb with incredible precision, the FGS will be used with all of Webb’s instruments and throughout all observations.
Now entering its scientific operations phase, Webb becomes an extraordinary tool for astronomers in Canada and around the world to examine every phase of cosmic history, from the origin of the universe to the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets.