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    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Discovery Alert: With Six New Worlds, 5,500 Discovery Milestone Passed!
      NASA’s Exoplanet Archive confirmed four new worlds, bringing the total past 5,500. On Aug. 24, 2023, more than three decades after the first confirmation of planets beyond our own solar system, scientists announced the discovery of six new exoplanets, stretching that number to 5,502. From zero exoplanet confirmations to over 5,500 in just a few decades, this new milestone marks another major step in the journey to understand the worlds beyond our solar system.
      The Discovery
      With the discovery of six new exoplanets, scientists have tipped the scales and surpassed 5,500 exoplanets found (there are now 5,502 known exoplanets, to be exact).
      Just about 31 years ago, in 1992, the first exoplanets were confirmed when scientists detected twin planets Poltergeist and Phobetor orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12. In March 2022, just last year, scientists celebrated passing 5,000 exoplanets discovered.
      Key Facts 
      Scientists have discovered six new exoplanets — HD 36384 b, TOI-198 b, TOI-2095 b, TOI-2095 c, TOI-4860 b, and MWC 758 c — this has pushed the total number of confirmed exoplanets discovered to 5,502.
      Details
      HD 36384 b is a super-Jupiter that orbits an enormous M giant star.
      This planet was discovered using the radial velocity method, which measures the “wobble” of far-off stars that is caused by the gravitational tug of orbiting planets. Orbits a star so large that it clocks in at nearly 40 times the size of our Sun. TOI-198 b is a potentially rocky planet that orbits on the innermost edge of the habitable zone around its star, an M dwarf.
      This planet was discovered using the transit method, which detects exoplanets as they cross the face of their stars in their orbit, causing the star to temporarily dim. TOI-2095 b and TOI-2095 c are both large, hot super-Earths that orbit in the same system around a shared star, an M dwarf.
      Planets were both discovered using the transit method. Are close enough to their star that they are likely more similar to Venus than Earth. TOI-4860 b is a Jupiter-sized gas giant, or a “hot Jupiter,” that orbits an M dwarf star.
      This planet was discovered using the transit method. Completes an orbit every 1.52 days, meaning it is very close to its star. While it is extremely rare for giant planets like this to orbit so closely to Sun-like stars, it is even rarer for them to orbit M-dwarf stars as is the case here. MWC 758 c is a giant protoplanet that orbits a very young star. This star still has its protoplanetary disk, which is a rotating disc of gas and dust that can surround a young star.
      This planet was discovered using direct imaging. Was found carving spiral arms into its star’s protoplanetary disk. Is one of the first exoplanets discovered in a system where the star has a protoplanetary disk. The field of exoplanet science has exploded since the first exoplanet confirmation in 1992, and with evolving technology, the future for this field looks brighter than ever.
      In March 2022, NASA passed 5,000 confirmed exoplanets. Tis data sonification allows us to hear the pace of the discovery of those worlds. In this animation, exoplanets are represented by musical notes played across decades of discovery. Circles show location and size of orbit, while their color indicates the detection method. Lower notes mean longer orbits, higher notes mean shorter orbits. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Russo, A. Santaguida (SYSTEM Sounds) Watch this video in 3D There are a number of both space and ground-based instruments and observatories that scientists have used to detect and study exoplanets.
      NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched in 2018 and has identified thousands of exoplanet candidates and confirmed over 320 planets.
      NASA’s flagship space telescopes Spitzer, Hubble, and most recently the James Webb Space Telescope have also been used to discover and study exoplanets.
      NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is set to launch in May 2027. Roman will be carrying a technology demonstration called the Roman Coronagraph Instrument. This coronagraph will work by using a series of complex masks and mirrors to distort the light coming from far-away stars. By distorting this starlight, the instrument will reveal and directly-image hidden exoplanets.
      With the success of the Roman Coronagraph Instrument, NASA could push the envelope even further with is a concept for the mission the Habitable Worlds Observatory, which would search for “signatures of life on planets outside of our solar system,” according to the 2020 Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics.
      The Discoverers 
      These six exoplanets were discovered by different teams as part of five separate studies:
      TOI-4860 b TOI-2095 b & c HD 36384 b TOI-198 b MWC 758 c Share








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      Last Updated Jul 16, 2024 Related Terms
      Exoplanet Discoveries Exoplanet Exploration Program Exoplanets Gas Giant Exoplanets Studying Exoplanets Super-Earth Exoplanets Terrestrial Exoplanets Explore More
      6 min read NASA’s Webb Investigates Eternal Sunrises, Sunsets on Distant World


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    • By NASA
      6 Min Read NASA’s Webb Investigates Eternal Sunrises, Sunsets on Distant World
      Artists concept of WASP-39 b (full image below). Near-infrared spectral analysis of terminator confirms differences in morning and evening atmosphere
      Researchers using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have finally confirmed what models have previously predicted: An exoplanet has differences between its eternal morning and eternal evening atmosphere. WASP-39 b, a giant planet with a diameter 1.3 times greater than Jupiter, but similar mass to Saturn that orbits a star about 700 light-years away from Earth, is tidally locked to its parent star. This means it has a constant dayside and a constant nightside—one side of the planet is always exposed to its star, while the other is always shrouded in darkness.
      Using Webb’s NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph), astronomers confirmed a temperature difference between the eternal morning and eternal evening on WASP-39 b, with the evening appearing hotter by roughly 300 Fahrenheit degrees (about 200 Celsius degrees). They also found evidence for different cloud cover, with the forever morning portion of the planet being likely cloudier than the evening.
      Image A: Artist Concept WASP-39 b
      This artist’s concept shows what the exoplanet WASP-39 b could look like based on indirect transit observations from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as well as other space- and ground-based telescopes. Data collected by Webb’s NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) show variations between the eternal morning and evening atmosphere of the planet. Astronomers analyzed the 2- to 5-micron transmission spectrum of WASP-39 b, a technique that studies the exoplanet’s terminator, the boundary that separates the planet’s dayside and nightside. A transmission spectrum is made by comparing starlight filtered through a planet’s atmosphere as it moves in front of the star, to the unfiltered starlight detected when the planet is beside the star. When making that comparison, researchers can get information about the temperature, composition, and other properties of the planet’s atmosphere.
      “WASP-39 b has become a sort of benchmark planet in studying the atmosphere of exoplanets with Webb,” said Néstor Espinoza, an exoplanet researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute and lead author on the study. “It has an inflated, puffy atmosphere, so the signal coming from starlight filtered through the planet’s atmosphere is quite strong.”
      Previously published Webb spectra of WASP-39b’s atmosphere, which revealed the presence of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, water vapor, and sodium, represent the entire day/night boundary – there was no detailed attempt to differentiate between one side and the other.
      Now, the new analysis builds two different spectra from the terminator region, essentially splitting the day/night boundary into two semicircles, one from the evening, and the other from the morning. Data reveals the evening as significantly hotter, a searing 1,450 degrees Fahrenheit (800 degrees Celsius), and the morning a relatively cooler 1,150 degrees Fahrenheit (600 degrees Celsius).
      Image B: Transmission Spectra
      “It’s really stunning that we are able to parse this small difference out, and it’s only possible due Webb’s sensitivity across near-infrared wavelengths and its extremely stable photometric sensors,” said Espinoza. “Any tiny movement in the instrument or with the observatory while collecting data would have severely limited our ability to make this detection. It must be extraordinarily precise, and Webb is just that.”
      Extensive modeling of the data obtained also allows researchers to investigate the structure of WASP-39 b’s atmosphere, the cloud cover, and why the evening is hotter. While future work by the team will study how the cloud cover may affect temperature, and vice versa, astronomers confirmed gas circulation around the planet as the main culprit of the temperature difference on WASP-39 b.
      On a highly irradiated exoplanet like WASP-39 b that orbits relatively close to its star, researchers generally expect the gas to be moving as the planet rotates around its star: Hotter gas from the dayside should move through the evening to the nightside via a powerful equatorial jet stream. Since the temperature difference is so extreme, the air pressure difference would also be significant, which in turn would cause high wind speeds.
      Image C: Transit Light Curve
      Using General Circulation Models, 3-dimensional models similar to the ones used to predict weather patterns on Earth, researchers found that on WASP-39 b the prevailing winds are likely moving from the night side across the morning terminator, around the dayside, across the evening terminator and then around the nightside. As a result, the morning side of the terminator is cooler than the evening side. In other words, the morning side gets slammed with winds of air that have been cooled on the nightside, while the evening is hit by winds of air heated on the dayside. Research suggests the wind speeds on WASP-39 b can reach thousands of miles an hour!
      “This analysis is also particularly interesting because you’re getting 3D information on the planet that you weren’t getting before,” added Espinoza. “Because we can tell that the evening edge is hotter, that means it’s a little puffier. So, theoretically, there is a small swell at the terminator approaching the nightside of the planet.”
      The team’s results have been published in Nature.
      The researchers will now look to use the same method of analysis to study atmospheric differences of other tidally locked hot Jupiters, as part of  Webb Cycle 2 General Observers Program 3969.
      WASP-39 b was among the first targets analyzed by Webb as it began regular science operations in 2022. The data in this study was collected under Early Release Science program 1366, designed to help scientists quickly learn how to use the telescope’s instruments and realize its full science potential.
      The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
      Downloads
      Right click any image to save it or open a larger version in a new tab/window via the browser’s popup menu.
      View/Download all image products at all resolutions for this article from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
      The research results have been published in Nature.
      Media Contacts
      Rob Gutro – rob.gutro@nasa.gov
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Hannah Braun hbraun@stsci.edu Christine Pulliam – cpulliam@stsci.edu
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
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      More Webb News – https://science.nasa.gov/mission/webb/latestnews/
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      Details
      Last Updated Jul 15, 2024 Editor Stephen Sabia Related Terms
      Astrophysics Exoplanet Atmosphere Exoplanet Science Exoplanets Gas Giant Exoplanets Goddard Space Flight Center James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Science & Research The Universe View the full article
    • By NASA
      The distorted spiral galaxy at center, the Penguin, and the compact elliptical at left, the Egg, are locked in an active embrace. This near- and mid-infrared image combines data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument), and marks the telescope’s second year of science. Webb’s view shows that their interaction is marked by a glow of scattered stars represented in blue. Known jointly as Arp 142, the galaxies made their first pass by one another between 25 and 75 million years ago, causing “fireworks,” or new star formation, in the Penguin. The galaxies are approximately the same mass, which is why one hasn’t consumed the other.NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI To celebrate the second science anniversary of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the team has released a near- and mid-infrared image on July 12, 2024, of two interacting galaxies: The Penguin and the Egg.
      Webb specializes in capturing infrared light – which is beyond what our own eyes can see – allowing us to view and study these two galaxies, collectively known as Arp 142. Their ongoing interaction was set in motion between 25 and 75 million years ago, when the Penguin (individually cataloged as NGC 2936) and the Egg (NGC 2937) completed their first pass. They will go on to shimmy and sway, completing several additional loops before merging into a single galaxy hundreds of millions of years from now.
      Learn more about the Penguin and the Egg.
      Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
      Text Credit: NASA Webb Mission Team
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      A duo of interacting galaxies known as Arp 142 commemorates the second science anniversary of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. Their ongoing interaction was set in motion between 25 and 75 million years ago, when the Penguin (individually catalogued as NGC 2936) and the Egg (NGC 2937) completed their first pass. They will go on to shimmy and sway, completing several additional loops before merging into a single galaxy hundreds of millions of years from now.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      6 Min Read Vivid Portrait of Interacting Galaxies Marks Webb’s Second Anniversary
      Webb’s view of the interacting galaxies of Arp 142 that combines Webb’s NIRCam and MIRI instrument images. Full image below. Two for two! A duo of interacting galaxies commemorates the second science anniversary of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which takes constant observations, including images and highly detailed data known as spectra. Its operations have led to a “parade” of discoveries by astronomers around the world.
      “Since President Biden and Vice President Harris unveiled the first image from the James Webb Space Telescope two years ago, Webb has continued to unlock the mysteries of the universe,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “With remarkable images from the corners of the cosmos, going back nearly to the beginning of time, Webb’s capabilities are shedding new light on our celestial surroundings and inspiring future generations of scientists, astronomers, and explorers.”
      “In just two years, Webb has transformed our view of the universe, enabling the kind of world-class science that drove NASA to make this mission a reality,” said Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Webb is providing insights into longstanding mysteries about the early universe and ushering in a new era of studying distant worlds, while returning images that inspire people around the world and posing exciting new questions to answer. It has never been more possible to explore every facet of the universe.”
      The telescope’s specialization in capturing infrared light — which is beyond what our own eyes can detect — shows these galaxies, collectively known as Arp 142, locked in a slow cosmic dance. Webb’s observations, which combine near- and mid-infrared light from Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument), respectively, clearly show that they are joined by a haze represented in blue that is a mix of stars and gas, a result of their mingling.
      Their ongoing interaction was set in motion between 25 and 75 million years ago, when the Penguin (individually cataloged as NGC 2936) and the Egg (NGC 2937) completed their first pass. They will go on to shimmy and sway, completing several additional loops before merging into a single galaxy hundreds of millions of years from now.
      Image A: Interacting Galaxies Arp 142 (NIRCam and MIRI)
      The distorted spiral galaxy at center, the Penguin, and the compact elliptical at left, the Egg, are locked in an active embrace. This near- and mid-infrared image combines data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument), and marks the telescope’s second year of science. Webb’s view shows that their interaction is marked by a glow of scattered stars represented in blue. Known jointly as Arp 142, the galaxies made their first pass by one another between 25 and 75 million years ago, causing “fireworks,” or new star formation, in the Penguin. The galaxies are approximately the same mass, which is why one hasn’t consumed the other. Let’s Dance!
      Before their first approach, the Penguin held the shape of a spiral. Today, its galactic center gleams like an eye, its unwound arms now shaping a beak, head, backbone, and fanned-out tail.
      Like all spiral galaxies, the Penguin is still very rich in gas and dust. The galaxies’ “dance” gravitationally pulled on the Penguin’s thinner areas of gas and dust, causing them to crash in waves and form stars. Look for those areas in two places: what looks like a fish in its “beak” and the “feathers” in its “tail.”
      Surrounding these newer stars is smoke-like material that includes carbon-containing molecules, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which Webb is exceptional at detecting. Dust, seen as fainter, deeper orange arcs also swoops from its beak to tail feathers.
      In contrast, the Egg’s compact shape remains largely unchanged. As an elliptical galaxy, it is filled with aging stars, and has a lot less gas and dust that can be pulled away to form new stars. If both were spiral galaxies, each would end the first “twist” with new star formation and twirling curls, known as tidal tails.
      Another reason for the Egg’s undisturbed appearance: These galaxies have approximately the same mass or heft, which is why the smaller-looking elliptical wasn’t consumed or distorted by the Penguin.
      It is estimated that the Penguin and the Egg are about 100,000 light-years apart — quite close in astronomical terms. For context, the Milky Way galaxy and our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, are about 2.5 million light-years apart. They too will interact, but not for about 4 billion years.
      Now, look to the top right to spot a galaxy that is not at this party. This edge-on galaxy, cataloged PGC 1237172, is 100 million light-years closer to Earth. It’s also quite young, teeming with new, blue stars.
      Want one more party trick? Switch to Webb’s mid-infrared-only image to see PGC 1237172 practically disappear. Mid-infrared light largely captures cooler, older stars and an incredible amount of dust. Since the galaxy’s stellar population is so young, it “vanishes” in mid-infrared light.
      Image B: Interacting Galaxies Arp 142 (MIRI Only)
      NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s mid-infrared view of interacting galaxies Arp 142 seems to sing in primary colors. The Egg shows up as a tiny, teal-colored oval, because it is made up of old stars and has lost or used up most of its gas and dust. At right, the Penguin’s star-forming regions are represented in pink and purple, and contain smoke-like material known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Also take a moment to scan the background. Webb’s image is overflowing with distant galaxies. Some take spiral and oval shapes, like those threaded throughout the Penguin’s “tail feathers,” while others scattered throughout are shapeless dots. This is a testament to the sensitivity and resolution of the telescope’s infrared instruments. (Compare Webb’s view to the 2018 observation that combines infrared light from NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope and near-infrared and visible light from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.) Even though these observations only took a few hours, Webb revealed far more distant, redder, and dustier galaxies than previous telescopes – one more reason to expect Webb to continue to expand our understanding of everything in the universe.
      Want more? Take a tour to the image, “fly through” it in a visualization, and compare Webb’s image to the Hubble Space Telescope’s.
      Arp 142 lies 326 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra.
      Video: Tour the Arp 142 Image
      Video tour transcript
      Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Danielle Kirshenblat (STScI) Video: Arp 142 Visualization
      Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Ralf Crawford (STScI), Joseph DePasquale (STScI), Christian Nieves (STScI), Joseph Olmsted (STScI), Alyssa Pagan (STScI), Frank Summers (STScI), Greg Bacon (STScI) Image C: Compare Hubble/Webb
      Image Before/After The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
      Downloads
      Right click any image to save it or open a larger version in a new tab/window via the browser’s popup menu.
      View/Download all image products at all resolutions for this article from the Space Telescope Science Institute.
      Media Contacts
      Laura Betz – laura.e.betz@nasa.gov, Rob Gutro – rob.gutro@nasa.gov
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Claire Blome – cblome@stsci.edu Christine Pulliam – cpulliam@stsci.edu
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
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