In a Christmas gift launched by the Ariane 5 rocket on December 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope took full function in June enough already to satisfy astrophysicists. Just a few of the many unexpected discoveries.
A group of massive galaxies is forming around a very red quasar located 11.5 billion light-years away. A quasar is a supermassive black hole at the center of a very bright region. This result will expand our understanding of how galaxy clusters in the early universe held together and formed the cosmic web we see today.
MIRI, the infrared telescope instrument developed in the LESIA department of the Paris Observatory under the leadership and impetus of Daniel Rouen, the founding father of this new technology, provides a stunning new image of a pair of stars. No fewer than 17 concentric rings of dust are ejected by this pair of stars located just over 5,000 light-years from Earth from this duo known as Wolf-Rayet 140. Each ring was created when the two stars collided together every 7.93 years like the rings in Tree trunk.
Elementary analysis of Mars’ spectrum shows a rich set of spectral features that contain information about dust and icy clouds, the type of rock on the planet’s surface, and the composition of the atmosphere. Spectral signals—including deep valleys known as absorption features—of water, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide can easily be detected using the JWST.
The NIRSPEC spectrometer made it possible to determine the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of exoplanet WASP-39 b, the first detection of this kind in a planet’s atmosphere outside our solar system. This does not necessarily prove the existence of life on the surface of this planet because many phenomena, among other things, volcanism, can also trigger it.
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