exoplanet atmospheres

Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope will inspect the atmospheres of distant gas giants

Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope will inspect the atmospheres of distant gas giants

The James Webb Space Telescope is like the party of the century that keeps getting postponed. Due to its sheer complexity and some anomalous readings that were detected during vibration testing, the launch date of this telescope has been pushed back many times – it is currently expected to launch sometime in 2021. But for obvious reasons, NASA remains committed to seeing this mission through.

Hubble detects helium in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time

Hubble detects helium in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have detected helium in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-107b. This is the first time this element has been detected in the atmosphere of a planet outside the Solar System. The discovery demonstrates the ability to use infrared spectra to study exoplanet extended atmospheres.

Using atmospheric beacons to search for signs of extra-terrestrial life

Using atmospheric beacons to search for signs of extra-terrestrial life

Despite the thousands of exoplanets that have been discovered by astronomers in recent years, determining whether or not any of them are habitable is a major challenge. Since we cannot study these planets directly, scientists are forced to look for indirect indications. These are known as biosignatures, which consist of the chemical byproducts we associate with organic life showing up in a planet’s atmosphere.