A historical direct picture of a planet outside the solar system was taken by the Webb telescope. It orbits the star HIP 65426 in the constellation Centaurus, 385 light-years away. The name of the planet is HIP 65426 b, and it was discovered in 2017. But, according to The Guardian, for the first time scientists have received such a detailed image of this celestial body.
The exoplanet is 5-10 times more massive than Jupiter. Thanks to the images that were taken in the infrared, scientists were able to determine the approximate mass and temperature of the planet. It belongs to the class of planets “hot Jupiter”, as the temperature of the atmosphere is about 1300 degrees Celsius.
The Webb telescope took 4 direct images of the planet, for which NIRCam and MIRI instruments were used. While processing the photo, the scientists marked the location of the planet’s parent star with an asterisk.
According to Sasha Hinckley of the University of Exeter, UK, a direct image of the planet is a historic moment for astronomy. After all, now it becomes clear that it is possible to study in detail distant celestial bodies and obtain information about their mass, composition, temperature.
The planet is only 10-20 million years old. By comparison, the Earth is already 4.5 billion years old. In addition, as Sasha Hinckley says, it is very difficult to get a direct image of planets outside the solar system. After all, the light of a star around which the planets revolve is thousands of times stronger than their radiation. But HIP 65426 b is 100 times farther than Earth from the Sun. Thus, photographing the planet in the infrared is much easier than the Webb telescope did.
It is worth noting that scientists have already managed to obtain images of exoplanets. For example, they were made by Hubble. But they could not please with such detail, which is visible in the picture using the Webb telescope.