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The James Webb Telescope just discovered a super-Earth with an atmosphere – teach me about science

The James Webb Telescope just discovered a super-Earth with an atmosphere – teach me about science

Image credits: iStock

In order to find life outside Earth, scientists and astronomers have not stopped searching for planets outside our solar system that have characteristics similar to our planet Earth, making amazing discoveries.

On this occasion, thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope, a group of scientists was able to discover a planet outside our solar system that has a secondary atmosphere, and in this note we tell you all the details of this amazing research.

In 2004, they discovered the exoplanet “55 Cancri e”, located 41 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cancer, which orbits with 4 other planets around a star very similar to Sol 55 Cancri.

The planet 55 Cancri e is a hot, rocky super-Earth, roughly twice the diameter of Earth and slightly denser, with a bubbling magma ocean on its surface, one side in daylight and one in eternal darkness. It is tidally locked to its parent star and does not rotate on its axis.

This mysterious planet has not stopped studying the scientific community since its first discovery, those who have been observing it for more than a decade have finally obtained the first evidence that this giant planet has a secondary atmosphere, as they announced in a study recently published in the scientific journal nature.

These scientists explained that in previous “55 Cancri e” studies they had found evidence of the existence of atmospheric gases, such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and for this reason they never lost their dedication to this great research and that it finally gave its status as the first results.

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This major discovery of the secondary atmosphere of the planet ’55 Cancri e’ was through modern spectroscopy methods, using the near and mid-infrared cameras of the James Webb Space Telescope, through which they were able to measure changes in the light and temperature of the planet. This planet as it orbits around its star.

Image credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, Ralph Crawford (STScI)

Initially, scientists thought that since it was a planet covered in magma, its temperature would be around 2,200 degrees Celsius, but the results obtained through measurements showed that it was significantly cooler, as they obtained an estimate of 1,500 degrees Celsius.

This temperature is a very strong indicator that energy is distributed from the day side to the night side, likely due to the volatile-rich atmosphere.“Renyu Hu, a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), lead author of a paper for a publication of a pot.

Scientists also explained that this atmosphere was called “secondary” because it developed after the initial creation of the planet, being the product of its continuous volcanic activity, in addition to the fact that the planet “55 Cancri e” is very close to its star, so any initial formation of the atmosphere will be confronted with radiation and high temperatures. .

This would act as a secondary atmosphere that the magma ocean would constantly replenish. Magma is not just liquid crystals and rocks; It also contains a lot of dissolved gas“It’s a very good idea,” said co-author Aaron Bello-Arouf.

The discovery of the secondary atmosphere of ’55 Cancrie e’ is surprising, because it opens the possibility of finding other rocky planets with atmospheres and deciphering the evolution of other planets, revolutionizing the knowledge we currently have about the giant universe that surrounds us.