Just recently, the James Webb Space Telescope was able to make its very first direct observations of an extrasolar planet (a world orbiting a star other than the Sun). The planet in question is HIP 65426 b, which is a gas giant surrounded by clouds of dust. This planet has been seen through several light filters, which demonstrates how Webb could disclose information about exoplanets that has never been seen before.
HIP 65426 b is approximately 12 times the mass of Jupiter and is located 385 light-years away from Earth. Because of its far greater distance from its star compared to that of Earth’s distance from the Sun, it is more simpler to study. On the other hand, the planet’s star is more than 10,000 times brighter than the planet itself. Consequently, watching it is analogous to attempting to spot a fly next to a massive lighthouse that is located more than 80 kilometers away.
It is important to note that the appearance of the planet as a point of light varies slightly depending on which filter is used. These differences are caused by the optical system of the telescope and the way it translates light. Both the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), which are instruments that the Webb is equipped with, contain coronagraphs, which are sets of small masks that obscure the light from the star. Because of the coronagraphs and the picture processing, it is not visible in the photographs. This is because the element was deleted.
Up to that point, scientists had already been successful in directly observing it using telescopes stationed on the ground. Now, thanks to new observations made by the Webb spacecraft, the planet has been captured at longer wavelengths. These wavelengths contain the majority of the light emitted in the planet’s atmosphere and reveal characteristics that are not visible to telescopes situated on the ground. The fresh studies of the planet could reveal what Jupiter and Saturn were like when they were in their “childhood” because it is only between 10 and 20 million years old and is significantly younger than Earth.