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Scientists have spent trillions of dollars in projects to know about this massive universe of which we are a tiny part. They have launched humans, satellites, starships to gigantic telescopes in space to know anything they could and most importantly find an Earth 2.0. However, despite all the time, money, and effort, scientists could not find the possibility of life anywhere else in this universe. But, the hopes of scientists went up high with the launch of the billion-dollar James Webb Space Telescope. Join us in today’s video to find out where do scientists think that James Webb can find alien life and how birthdays are going to ease our way in discovering the habitable planet.
When you look at the night sky, you get a mesmerizing view of thousands of twinkling stars but these stars are far less in number than the exoplanets out there. So, can you imagine how many there can be? Like our Earth and other planets in our solar system orbit around the sun, there are some other planets that orbit a star other than our sun. These planets are called Exoplanets. As the name suggests, these planets are far, far outside our own solar system. The first exoplanet was found in 1992 orbiting a pulsar, after that thousands more have been discovered. As of 1 April 2022, there are 4,984 confirmed exoplanets.
Describing their composition, NASA says that by measuring exoplanets’ sizes and masses, we can see compositions ranging from very rocky like Earth and Venus to very gas-rich like Jupiter and Saturn. Exoplanets are made up of elements that are similar to those found in our solar system’s planets, but their compositions may differ. Water or ice may dominate some planets, while iron or carbon may dominate others. We’ve discovered lava worlds with molten seas, puffy planets with the density of Styrofoam, and planets with dense cores still orbiting their stars.
Scientists have been discovering the planets centuries ago even without advance telescopes. We can see the planets of our solar system even with the naked eye. However, that’s not the case with the exoplanets. The reason why they have not been seen before lies in the distance. Exoplanets are several light-years away from us at their closest.
Another reason behind this is that, unlike stars, exoplanets do not emit their own light. They, like our own planet, are only illuminated by light reflected from their local stars. Exoplanets are extremely dim in comparison to their stars; even the largest are drowned in the light of their much brighter stars. So, still today even with advanced telescopes, we are not able to detect most of them.
However, scientists came up with some indirect methods to search the exoplanets in search of the answer to “Are we alone in the universe?”. Most exoplanets are found through indirect methods: measuring the dimming of a star that happens to have a planet pass in front of it, called the transit method, or monitoring the spectrum of a star for tell-tale signs of a planet pulling on its star and causing it’s light to subtly Doppler shift. Thousands of planets have been discovered by observing “transits,” the slight dimming of a star’s light as its tiny planet passes between it and our telescopes. Another method of detection is Gravitational lensing, also known as the “wobble method.”
This does not seem easy for scientists to discover exoplanets and can you imagine how hard it will be to study them? Finding an Earth-like planet, particularly one with life, has been and continues to be the driving force behind our searches for and explorations of these faraway worlds. Well, with the iconic James Webb Space Telescope out there, we might get the answer. With the largest space telescope out there in space, scientists are getting hopeful for finding what they could not do to date. This includes finding life in this massive universe. Among many other missions, one of the important missions of JWST is to find the signs of Alien life and according to the scientist, they know where the James Webb should exactly look, the Proxima b.
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