NASA employees yesterday, January 11, officially announced that the James Webb Space Telescope discovered its first exoplanet – a planet that is located in another star system. The new space object was named LHS 475 b and it is very similar in physical characteristics to the Earth – the diameter of the new planet is only 1% smaller than ours. However, at the moment, the analysis of the exoplanet has shown that it is most likely unsuitable for life, although scientists will continue to study in this direction, because the planet is located relatively close to the Earth (distance of 41 light years).
The first problem with LHS 475 b is that it is too close to the red dwarf. This planet is much closer to its star than any planet in the solar system is to the Sun, which is why the surface temperature of LHS 475 b is several hundred degrees warmer than on Earth. Scientists believe that the open exoplanet is still lucky – the temperature of the red dwarf, around which the planet rotates, is less than half the temperature of the Sun, so the atmosphere may well remain on the surface of the exoplanet. But, of course, it is very different from earth.
Scientists believe that the planet LHS 475 b may have an atmosphere, but it consists of methane and is quite thick – about the same as on Titan, Saturn’s moon. At the same time, experts do not exclude the atmosphere from carbon dioxide, but so far it has not been possible to obtain any accurate data on this issue, because the volume of this gas may be too scanty to be detected at such a distance with the current level of technology. Accordingly, scientists plan to conduct many studies of LHS 475 b in the summer of 2023 in order to more accurately determine the composition of the atmosphere and other physical characteristics of the cosmic body.
In addition, the scientists said that the complete revolution of the exoplanet LHS 475 b around its star takes only two Earth days, so the process of changing day and night on a distant planet is likely to occur very quickly. So now experts are inclined to believe that LHS 475 b is more like Venus – with a very thick atmosphere, high clouds and a temperature too high for humans. But this is just the beginning – the James Webb telescope has enough advanced technology to, among other things, search for Earth 2.0 in remote and not very corners of space.