WASP 39b is a gas giant that is 700 light-years away.
The first ever detection of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet outside the Solar System took place earlier this year.
The most detailed look at an exoplanet atmosphere has been given by an in-depth analysis of data from theJWST.
Information about WASP-39b's clouds, the first-ever direct detection of photochemistry in an exoplanet atmosphere, and a nearly complete inventory of the atmosphere's chemical contents are included in the results.
The discoveries have been published in five papers in Nature and pave the way for the detection of life outside the Solar System.
The director of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany says that the observations are a sign of more amazing science to come with the telescope.
We put the telescope through its paces to make sure it was perfect, and it was even better than we expected.
Since the discovery of the first exoplanets, we've wanted to know more about these worlds.
The challenges have been difficult. Small planets can be very far away. We only know of their existence due to the effect they have on their hosts.
A transit happens when the exoplanet passes between us and the star. The starlight is slightly dim due to this. The effects of the star on the size of that body can be seen.
Based on transit data, we can tell something else. The atmosphere of the transiting exoplanet changes as starlight moves through it. Depending on how the atmosphere absorbs and re-emits light, some parts of the spectrum are either dimmed or brightened.
The signal is faint, but with a powerful telescope and a stack of transits, the changing absorption and emission features on the spectrum can be deciphered.
The most powerful space telescope has been launched. With three of its four instruments, it was able to see the star WASP 39. The scientists were analyzing the codes.
The first thing we did was a census of the Molecules in WASP-39b's Atmosphere. Water vapor, sodium, and carbon monoxide were also detected. The metallicity of WASP 39b is higher than that of Earth.
There is a lot of these elements. The ratio of carbon to oxygen suggests that the exoplanet formed far away from its host star than it is currently located. Modeling and observation data show that the exoplanet's sky is filled with broken clouds of silicates and sulfites.
Sulfur dioxide was found in the observations. Sulfur dioxide is the result of volcanic activity on rocky planets such as Venus and Io. When hydrogen sulfide is broken down by light into its parts, sulfur dioxide is created.
The effects of photochemistry on habitability, the stability of an atmosphere, and the formation of aerosols can be seen.
The detection of photochemistry is one that has implications for atmospheric studies of other worlds and is one of the reasons that WASP-39b is not likely to be a good place to live.
For a long time, planetary scientists have been waiting for the insights into atmospheres that would be provided by the JWST. It looks like the space telescope is going to live up to its promise with the first detailed atmosphere analysis.
The teams involved in this research are preparing documentation so other scientists can use their techniques.
With the analysis of WASP-39b, we may not be able to detect the signatures of life in an exoplanet atmosphere, but we may be able to find out.
Natalie Batalha of the University of California Santa Cruz says that data like these are a game-changer.
Preprints of the research can be found here and here.