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The James Webb Space Telescope reveals the atmosphere of an alien planet like never before

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A boiling Saturn-like planet 700 light-years from the Sun has become the best-studied planet outside of our solar system. Measurements of the planet’s atmosphere by the James Webb Space Telescope have revealed unprecedented details of its chemistry and even allowed astronomers to test methods for detecting extraterrestrial life.

That exoplanet Orbiting a star in the constellation Virgo, WASP-39b made headlines in late August when the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb or JWST) found carbon dioxide in its atmosphere. It was the very first such recognition and experts hailed the discovery as a major breakthrough. Now, less than three months later, an avalanche of studies based on the large telescope’s observations have revealed the smallest details of WASP-39b’s atmosphere, even allowing astronomers to draw inferences about the exoplanet’s formation history.

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