The four Mysticals had returned to the dorm room after their school day. Orak was on the floor, propped up on his elbows. He was reading his favorite book in the whole world, The Book of Everything!
“The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been quite busy!” Orak shared with his friends.
Orak jogged their memories, “The JWST is a space telescope. It is the most powerful telescope in the world. It has been developed jointly by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Only recently the JWST captured the deepest image of the universe!”
“Tell us, tell us,” Verum said excitedly, “What has the JWST discovered now?”
Orak cleared his throat and announced dramatically, “For the first time in the history of human space exploration, JWST has detected carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. An exoplanet is a planet outside our solar system.”
“That’s incredible!” Scorch said.
“The JWST observed a planet called WASP-39 b. It is a gas giant 700 light-years away. Its mass is roughly one-quarter that of planet Jupiter. It has a temperature of about 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit or 900 degrees Celsius. WASP-39 b orbits close to its star. It completes one orbit around its star in just over four Earth days.
The team used James Webb’s instrument called the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec),” Orak said.
“NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes had already detected the presence of water vapor, sodium, and potassium in the WASP-39 b atmosphere,” Orak added.
“This is a huge discovery. Carbon dioxide is the building block of life!” Felix said.
“You are right, Felix. Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth. Humans and animals breathe out carbon dioxide. Plants require this carbon dioxide to make food. Carbon dioxide also exists in Earth’s atmosphere. It keeps our Earth’s surface warm. Without carbon dioxide, there would be no life on Earth!” Orak said.
“This discovery will tell the scientists more about the origin of the planet and how it evolved,” Orak concluded.
Suddenly, an eerie sound started playing. “Um, what’s that spooky sound?” Scorch looked around frantically. The sound was coming from Verum’s crystal ball!
Orak recognised it immediately. He said, “It’s the sound of space! Recently, NASA released an audio clip of sound waves coming from a supermassive black hole. This black hole is in the Perseus galaxy cluster.”
“But I thought there was no sound in space?” Felix said.
“It’s a misconception. NASA said it’s because most space is a vacuum. It has no way for sound waves to travel. But in a galaxy cluster, there is so much gas that they were able to pick up actual sound,” Orak explained.
“By the way, JWST is making amazing discoveries almost every week. So, we have many more things to look forward to!” Orak said.
“It’s an exciting time for space exploration!” Verum declared.