Bhubaneswar: A multinational team of scientists around the world including Jayesh Goyal from the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) Bhubaneswar have found the first clear evidence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet (planet outside the solar system).
For observations the scientists used the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) of the USA’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This observation of a gas giant planet orbiting a Sun-like star 700 light-years away provides important insights into the composition and formation of the planet, said the information published by the NASA website on Thursday.
“A lot of people in the world and in India were waiting to see which mysteries of the Universe JWST will unravel. This unambiguous discovery of carbon dioxide in an exoplanet atmosphere was one such mystery and therefore a big step forward in our understanding of faraway worlds and search for life on them,” said the NISER Bhubaneswar scientist Goyal on Friday.
He said the exoplanet WASP-39 b captured by JWST on July 10 revealed the first definitive evidence for carbon dioxide in a planet outside the solar system. It is a hot gas-giant with a mass roughly one-quarter that of Jupiter (about the same as Saturn). Its high temperature is about 900 degree Celsius.
Unlike the gas giants in the solar system, WASP-39 b orbits very close to its star completing one orbit in just over four Earth-days.
NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes had found the presence of water vapor, sodium, and potassium in the atmosphere of WASP-39b. The team used JWST’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) to detect carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 molecules are sensitive tracers of the story of planet formation, said the NASA sources.
This finding can provide researchers with ideal opportunities to probe planetary atmospheres, said the NISER press release.

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