With you, HIP 65426 b: this is the sharpest photograph of an exoplanet, captured by NASA’s James Webb Telescope


Exoplanets have always been seen through artistic representations made by the POT, or very, very little detailed images. But, for the first time in history, the clearest photograph of one can be seen: it was taken by the James Webb Telescope, in full space.

It is the exoplanet HIP 65426 b, a gas giant with no rocky surface and obviously uninhabitable. It’s between six and 12 times the mass of Jupiter, though observations could help narrow it down even further.

In addition, H.I.P. It is between 15 and 20 million years old. is very young: the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

This exoplanet had been discovered in 2017 with the SPHERE instrument on the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile, taking images of it with short infrared wavelengths of light.

But the infrared waves from the James Webb Telescope are longer, and help reveal new details that ground-based telescopes couldn’t.

Sasha Hinkley, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Exeter in the UK, led the observations. “This is a transformative moment,” she defined, “not just for Webb, but for astronomy in general.”

The salient features of the image of the exoplanet HIP 65426 b, captured by NASA’s James Webb Telescope

It is the exoplanet HIP 65426 b, a gas giant without a rocky surface and, obviously, impossible to inhabit.

NASA released the image this week, with the planet seen through four different light filters. These are the characteristics of each of the filters:

  • the violet shows the view with the NIRCam instrument at 3.00 micrometers.
  • The blue, the view with the NIRCam instrument at 4.44 micrometers.
  • The yellow, at 11.4 micrometers.
  • The Red, at 15.5 micrometers.

A micrometer is one millionth of a meter.

Meanwhile, the little white star in each image marks the location of the host star HIP 65426, which was taken using the coronagraphs and image processing.

The image is expected to be much sharper in the future, with the increased focus of the Webb Telescope. At the moment, we enjoy the current one with its four filters. A beauty.


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