Washington. The James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first image of an exoplanet, the United States Space Agency (NASA) reported.
The planet, located outside the solar system and named HIP 65426 b, is a gas giant without a rocky surface that could not be habitable.
“This is a turning point, not just for Webb but for astronomy in general,” said University of Exeter astronomy professor Sasha Hinkley, who led the observing team.
Webb was launched in December 2021 and since then has only received praise from astronomers for its performance.
It is the most powerful space telescope ever built and its images have thrilled observers in recent months as it orbits the Sun 1.6 million kilometers from Earth.
Webb has telescopic accessories that block starlight, such as infrared gaze and coronagraphs, which allow him to take direct images of exoplanets.
“It was really impressive how well Webb’s coronagraphs worked to suppress light from the host star,” Hinkley said in a NASA statement Thursday.
HIP 65426 b has between six and 12 times the mass of Jupiter and is young, being between 15 and 20 million years old, especially compared to the Earth, which is 4.5 billion years old.
The telescope, which released its first images in July, has also revealed dazzling new details of the so-called Ghost galaxy and the planet Jupiter.
Before, the Hubble Space Telescope had captured direct images of exoplanets, but with much less detail.
“I think the most exciting thing is that we’re just getting started,” said Aarynn Carter of the University of California. “We can even discover previously unknown planets.”
The engineering project that includes the Webb telescope had an estimated cost of 10 billion dollars and is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
It is expected to work for approximately 20 years.
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