James Webb Space Telescope reveals the atmospheres of alien planets like never before

A boiling Saturn-like planet 700 light-years from the sun has become the best-studied planet outside our solar system. Measurements of the planet’s atmosphere by the James Webb Space Telescope have revealed unprecedented details of its chemistry and even allowed astronomers to test methods for detecting extraterrestrial life.

The exoplanet WASP-39b, which orbits a star in the constellation Virgo, made headlines in late August when the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb of JWST) found carbon dioxide in its atmosphere. It was the very first such detection and experts hailed the finding as a major breakthrough. Now, less than three months later, an avalanche of studies based on the large telescope’s observations has revealed the finest details of WASP-39b’s atmosphere, even allowing astronomers to draw conclusions about the exoplanet’s formation history.

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