NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will be used to study ‘Super Earth’ exoplanets and hot rocky worlds – some of which could host alien life
The James Webb Space Telescope will point its mirror at ‘Super Earth’ 系外行星, and hot rocky worlds – as these are planet types not found in the solar system.
Also known as JWST, the tennis court-sized telescope launched on 圣诞 Day from the European Space Agency (这个) facility in French Guiana, finally arriving at its destination a million miles from Earth on January 24.
Webb will now spend the next six months cooling down and being calibrated, with each of the 18 individual mirror segments ‘perfectly aligned’.
Once this is finished, a significant portion of its first year of observations will be turned over to examining exoplanets – worlds orbiting distant stars.
Among the first projects will be a study of 11 ‘super-Earths’, that is planets that sit somewhere between Earth and Neptune in size.
These are important objects for observation, as none of them are found within our own solar system, but they are relatively common elsewhere in the Milky Way.
The James Webb Space Telescope will point its mirror at ‘Super Earth’ 系外行星, and hot rocky worlds – as these are planet types not found in the solar system
This comes as NASA confirmed photons of starlight have entered the telescope for the first time, detected by the Near Infrared Camera instrument.
This is the first major milestone in capturing the first unfocused images, that will be used to finely tune the instrument and the telescope as a whole – over three months.
The Webb telescope has a 21ft mirror, making it the largest space-based observatories ever launched, and will study the universe in infrared.
As well as delving back and looking at the first stars to form after the Big Bang, at distant black holes, and young stars, Webb will turn its camera to exoplanets.
These alien worlds come in a surprising array of styles, sizes and make-up – including many not found in the solar system.
Natasha Batalha, from NASA Ames Researcher Center in California, 告诉 Space.com that the ‘diversity of planets we’ve discovered within the galaxy far exceeds the diversity of planets within our own solar system’.
‘In our solar system, we have the inner rocky worlds and outer gas planets — but the most common exoplanets we see are actually in between,’ 她说.
Also known as JWST, the tennis court-sized telescope launched on Christmas Day from the European Space Agency (这个) facility in French Guiana, finally arriving at its destination a million miles from Earth on January 24
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s first target is a sun-like star in the Big Dipper
The first target of the 美国宇航局 James Webb Space Telescope is a sun-like star in the Great Bear constellation, but it is just to check the mirrors are properly aligned.
的 $10 billion telescope is months from being ready to begin operations, despite arriving at its final orbit on January 24, as it has to cool down and undergo weeks of calibration work, to ensure the 18 segments of the main mirror ‘work as one’.
After reaching its orbit, at the second Lagrange point (L2), an area of balance between gravitational forces of the Earth and the sun, NASA revealed its first target.
‘Star light, star bright…the first star Webb will see is HD 84406, a Sun-like star about 260 光年远,’ the space agency wrote on the @NASAWebb twitter 帐户.
‘While it will be too bright for Webb to study once the telescope is in focus, it’s a perfect target for Webb to gather engineering data & start mirror alignment.’
When asked whether the images from this alignment process would be released to the public, a European Space Agency (这个) official told DailyMail.com: ‘All calibration data will be made public at the end of commissioning.’
Batalha and colleagues at Ames will be among the first to observe the cosmos with Webb, and they’re looking for clues about how exoplanets form, what they’re made of, and whether any could be potentially habitable.
The telescope reached its destination, a location known as the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 2 (L2), 在一月 24, and has started its calibration process.
When looking for exoplanets, astronomers use the worlds we know from the solar system as a reference, but most planets don’t appear to be like those nearby.
‘In between’ 世界, that aren’t large gas worlds, and aren’t small rocket planets like Earth, will be studied by Batalha and her team to learn how they formed.
Experts from Ames will also look at the general population of exoplanets visible using Webb – to get an idea of how they form, whether they are habitable, whether they are rocky or gas giants – a series of puzzle pieces to put together.
Thomas Greene, an astrophysicist at Ames has contributed to the development of Webb’s instrumentation and analysis techniques for over 20 年份.
He is leading a study using Webb to examine nine planets that are less massive, and cooler than any studied by previous, smaller telescopes.
it will focus on the chemical makeup of the atmosphere surrounding these worlds, looking at the abundances of heavier elements compared to their host stars.
Another type of planet that is in need of further study are small rocky worlds in orbit around cool dwarf stars.
This is an interesting topic for study, according to the astronomers, as these planets are often very close to their star – 和, as the star is smaller and cooler than the sun they still lie within the habitable zone, where liquid water can flow on the surface.
Little is known about these worlds, including whether they can maintain an atmosphere or harbor life – given the intense radiation from its host star.
Most of the world’s he plans to study are made of gas, but one is a rocky world – known as TRAPPIST-1b, the innermost planet in the TRAPPIST-1 system.
This is a group of seven rocky, roughly Earth-sized planets in orbit close to a small, cool dwarf star.
Webb will now spend the next six months cooling down and being calibrated, with each of the 18 individual mirror segments ‘perfectly aligned’
FACTS AND FIGURES: NASA’s $10 BILLION JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE
Operator: 美国宇航局 & 这个
大量上市: 十二月 25, 2021
Full operation begins: 夏天 2022
“使用钢框架的家庭也经常用框架来视觉化，这些框架通常用作生活区的焦点: Sun–Earth L2 point
Orbit type: Halo orbit
Mission duration: 20 年份 (预期的)
Telescope diameter: 21 脚 (6.5 米)
Focal length: 431 脚 (131.4 米)
Wavelengths: 0.6–28.3 μm
‘With so little known about the makeup of the planet, including if it has an atmosphere or not, the data gathered by Webb could reveal it to be a dead and barren world, or even one with the potential for hosting life,’ 团队说.
‘A planet’s atmosphere is essential for the possibility of life as we know it,’ said Greene. ‘We’ve developed Webb’s instruments to be able to give us the data we need to not only detect atmospheres, but to determine what they are made of.’
They plan to take a closer look at the spectrum of the planet, which will show the light it emits and give a view into its chemical composition.
It will look at the infrared emissions from the planet, which should allow them to look for signs of carbon dioxide.
If they find carbon dioxide, it suggests the planet could have formed and evolved like the rocky planets in the solar system as they have carbon dioxide.
As part of her rocky world study, Batalha will contribute to a pair of programs focusing on five similar rocky worlds – including two in the TRAPPIST-1 system.
Those programs will determine how many of those worlds have atmospheres, and if they do, what they are made of and whether they could be habitable.
Some of these planetary targets are hundreds or light years away, but one target is practically on our doorstep, in the Proxima Centauri system.
This is the star system closest to our own, just over four light years away, made up of a red dwarf star and may be home to two worlds.
The Webb telescope is the largest astrophysical space observatory and the most technically complex science mission NASA has ever built.
‘It’s a humbling experience to be part of such a massive endeavor,’ said Batalha.
'关于 10,000 people have contributed to this telescope, and thousands more across over 400 institutions will be analyzing data from its first cycle. It’s an amazing opportunity to get to do science on this scale.’
主要是红外望远镜, 它将拥有比哈勃更广的光谱视野，并在离地球更远的地方运行, 在太阳轨道上, 而不是地球轨道.
研究由 俄亥俄 州立大学声称在其上线后的五年内, 詹姆斯韦伯将在遥远的世界发现外星生命的迹象.
研究生 Caprice Phillips 计算出，只需绕几圈就可以检测到气体矮行星周围生物产生的氨.
该望远镜将用于回顾早期宇宙中诞生的第一个星系 13.5 十亿年前.
它还将观察恒星的来源, 系外行星, 甚至我们太阳系的卫星和行星.
詹姆斯韦伯望远镜及其大部分仪器的工作温度大约为 40 开尔文.
这是关于负 387 华氏度 (减去 233 摄氏).
负责望远镜的航天机构官员表示，成本可能超过 $8 十亿 (56亿英镑) 国会设定的计划上限.
NASA已经倾倒了 $7 十亿 (50 亿英镑) 自从它首次被提议作为长期运行的哈勃太空望远镜的替代品以来.
当它在 2021, 它将成为世界上最大、最强大的望远镜, 能够回望 200 大爆炸后百万年.
James Webb 的设计寿命为五年，但 NASA 希望它能运行十年或更长时间, 虽然由于它离地球很远，它不能轻易修复.
它是 66 ft by 46 ft and will operate at the Sun-Earth Lagrange point about 930,000 离地球几英里 – 几乎是月球的四倍.
该望远镜将于 10 月底在欧洲主力 Ariane-5 火箭上发射 2021, 预计在 2022.