James Webb Creates Weather Map of Exoplanet 280 Light-Years Away from Earth

The planet WASP-43b, located 280 light-years away from Earth, has a mass exceeding that of Jupiter by 78%. It completes a full orbit around its star in just 19.5 hours and is positioned only 2 million kilometers away from it. As a result, it is tidally locked, with one side always facing the star while the other remains in darkness.

Using the MIRI instrument, developed through a partnership between NASA and ESA, scientists were able to conduct a full day of observations of WASP-43b. During this time, data on the temperature of various parts of the planet were collected. The daytime side of the exoplanet heats up to 1250°C, while the temperature on the nighttime side is around 600°C.

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In addition to temperature, studies revealed the presence of water vapor in the planet’s atmosphere. However, methane, which would be expected to form under such conditions, was not detected. Scientists attribute this phenomenon to extremely high wind speeds, reaching 8000 km/h at the equator, which promote rapid gas mixing and prevent methane formation.

The data obtained and the climate models applied, similar to those used for Earth, allowed scientists to conclude that dense clouds exist on the nighttime side of the planet. These clouds, lifted upward from the heated daytime side, contain silicates and oxides, serving as a barrier that prevents heating on the nighttime side.

These findings not only expand understanding of the atmosphere of WASP-43b but also help improve Earth’s climate models. Observing cosmic objects allows climatologists to forecast what will happen to our planet in the future and understand how to prevent adverse changes.

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