With the recent announcement that the James Webb Space Telescope has discovered the first exoplanet, we are entering a new era of extrasolar astronomy.
James Webb promised that he would not only be able to detect exoplanets, but also study their atmospheres, marking a major step forward in exoplanet science.
Studying exoplanets is very difficult because they are generally too far away and too small to be observed directly.
Sometimes the telescope is able to image a planet outside the solar system directly, but most of the time researchers have to infer the existence of a planet by looking at the star it orbits, according to Digitartlends.
There are several ways to detect planets based on their effect on the star, but one of the most popular is the transit method, in which a telescope observes a star and looks for a very slight dip in brightness that occurs when a planet passes between them.
This is the method Webb used to discover the first exoplanet called LHS 475 b.
However, the larger goal is for Webb to discover exoplanet atmospheres.
Researchers have been able to collect some data on the atmosphere of the newly discovered planet and rule out some possibilities, but they are not yet able to determine the exact composition of the atmosphere.
This is because although an exoplanet is difficult to detect, its atmosphere is even more difficult to study.