Astronomy / Astrophysics

Artist's concept of the exoplanet K2-18 b with its star in the background (Image NASA, CSA, ESA, J. Olmstead (STScI), N. Madhusudhan (Cambridge University))

An article accepted for publication in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports the results of a study of the exoplanet K2-18 b, including the discovery of carbon compounds such as methane in its atmosphere. A team of researchers led by Nikku Madhusudhan of the British University of Cambridge used observations conducted with the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRISS and NIRSpec instruments to probe the atmosphere of K2-18 b. It’s an exoplanet already considered interesting due to its characteristics and its position in its planetary system’s habitable zone. Spectral analyzes also suggest the possible presence of dimethyl sulfide (DMS), a compound considered a biomarker. These are discoveries that add to the previous ones regarding an exoplanet that led to the proposal of the Hycean class.

The XRISM space telescope and the SLIM Moon lander blasting off atop an H-IIA rocket (Image courtesy JAXA)

A few hours ago, the Japanese XRISM space telescope and the SLIM Moon lander were launched from the Tanegashima space center atop an H-IIA rocket. After just over 14 minutes, XRISM separated from the rocket’s last stage and after about 48 minutes, SLIM did the same. XRISM will reach low Earth orbit, where it will position at an altitude of approximately 550 kilometers. SLIM started a much longer journey.

Artist's concept of the TOI-4600 system (Image courtesy Tedi Vick)

An article published in the “Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports the discovery of two exoplanets orbiting the star TOI-4600 of which the outermost is the one with the longest year discovered so far. A team of researchers used observations conducted with NASA’s TESS space telescope to find traces of these two gas exoplanets. Other ground-based observatories were used to confirm the existence of these two exoplanets and obtain more information about them. TOI-4600 b has a year of nearly 83 Earth days, a bit shorter than Mercury’s, while TOI-4600 c has a year of nearly 483 days, the longest of all known exoplanets. This is a useful discovery to understand what other planetary systems are like because exoplanets close to their stars are much easier to discover while we still know very little about the ones far from their stars.

The Aditya-L1 space probe at blastoff (Image courtesy ISRO)

A few hours ago, the Indian space probe Aditya-L1 blasted off from the Satish Dhawan space center atop a PSLV-XL rocket. After about ten minutes, it regularly separated from the rocket’s last stage. In about 109 days, Aditya-L1 will reach the Lagrange point called L1, about 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth, where it will begin its mission of observing the solar atmosphere and various processes taking place on the Sun’s surface. It will join other space probes and solar observatories helping to unlock the last secrets of the Sun.

SN 1987A as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope's NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument

An image of the remnants of supernova 1987A (SN 1987A) captured by the James Webb Space Telescope caught new details and never-before-seen structures such as the central one, which has a shape like a keyhole, and near it crescent-shaped formations. The NIRCam instrument proves again that it can see where other instruments have seen little or nothing in the decades since the supernova was detected. The aim is always to understand what happens in the years following a supernova to what remains of the star that exploded and to the materials ejected into interstellar space.