NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has discovered its first planet – and the rocky world is similar to our own.
Formally classified as LHS 475 b., the exoplanet is 99 percent of Earth’s diameter and while it is terrestrial, scientists do not yet know if it has an atmosphere.
Although the team cannot conclude what is present, they have ruled out a thick methane-dominated atmosphere similar to that of Saturn’s moon Titan.
JWST revealed that the planet, which sits 41 light-years away, is a few hundred degrees warmer than Earth and completes an orbit in two days.
There is still much to learn about LHS 475 b., such exoplanets have remained ‘invisible’ to space telescopes, but JWST proves again just how powerful its technology is.
Mark Clampin, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement: ‘These first observational results from an Earth-size, rocky planet open the door to many future possibilities for studying rocky planet atmospheres with Webb.
‘Webb is bringing us closer and closer to a new understanding of Earth-like worlds outside our solar system, and the mission is only just getting started.’