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The latest reports from James Webb show no more habitable planets  Wired

The latest reports from James Webb show no more habitable planets Wired

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has analyzed a rocky exoplanet TRAPPIST-1 c, one of the most attractive regions for astrobiologists and astronomers for its stellar conditions. Until recently, the planet was a prime candidate on the list of habitable planets, but the latest JWST data has ruled it out, and with it countless other planets with similar conditions.

TRAPPIST-1 c is one of the seven planets orbiting a red dwarf star, and one of the four planets in this solar system that lie in the habitable zone, where they receive the right radiation and gravitational force to create a friendly atmosphere for life.

The planet studied by JWST is known as the “twin” of Venus, since it is similar in size and the radiation it receives from the Sun will be the same. The telescope was pointed at the planet and, with the help of its infrared instruments, was able to measure its temperature during the day. The results were not encouraging. TRAPPIST-1 c was 107 degrees Celsius on the bright side.

The TRAPPIST system is located 40 light-years from Earth. (Image: Artist rendering by NASA)

The outer planet is much colder than Venus, for example, as its temperature is calculated at 453 degrees Celsius. The reading, along with other characteristics such as the amount of light the planet reflects, provides enough clues for scientists to determine this TRAPPIST-1 c has no atmosphere. Habitable planets must assume a dense enough atmosphere to create a capsule for weather and other atmospheric phenomena.

Our results are consistent with the planet being bare rock with no atmosphere, or with a very thin carbon dioxide atmosphere. If the planet had a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, we would have observed very shallow secondary eclipses (the technique by which the brightness of the light was calculated). This is because carbon dioxide will absorb every 15 microns of light, so we won’t detect any light coming from the planet “explained Sebastien Zeppa, lead author of the study published in Portal. nature.

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With the new observations, models have been made to determine the planet’s possible chemistry. The scientists responsible for the analysis concluded that TRAPPIST-1 c did not have enough water (since its formation) to be considered habitable.

Planets like the one recently analyzed are most commonly found in the red dwarf’s habitable zones. For scientists, the JWST review and its conclusions “definitely reduce the number of potentially habitable planets.”

A few months ago, scientists also ruled out TRAPPIST-1 b, from the same solar system, as a habitable exoplanet. Now only two more are likely to be habitable on a star 40 light-years from Earth.

Red dwarf stars are the most common in the galaxy. They are “cold” bodies, with surface temperatures ranging from 2,000°C to 3,000°C. It is small, about a third of our Sun’s mass. Scientists believe that if there are any habitable planets in the universe, they must be orbiting red dwarf stars.

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