James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

On Christmas of 2021, NASA launched the most advanced telescope ever made – James Webb Telescope – into space.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

After almost half a year and travelling for lakhs of kilometres from the Earth, the telescope stands at the helm of discovering the unfiltered universe.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

The super-Earths will be examined by the keen and long-visioned eyes of the James Webb telescope which will help researchers understand the evolution of rocky planets, such as our Earth, and the diverse range of geologies of different planets across the universe.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

The first super-Earth that the James Webb telescope will target is the 55 Cancri e, an extremely hot planet which is very close to its star.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

The planet is so close to its Sun that one year, on that planet, completes in 18 hours. The distance between Cancri e and its Sun is one twenty-fifth of the distance between our Sun and Mercury.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

As per the agency’s estimate, the surface of 55 Cancri e is covered with lava on the dayside since the temperatures are above the melting point of rock-forming minerals.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

During the evening, when the surface will comparatively get cooler, the lava will condense to form droplets of lava, which will then rain back on the surface.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

The 55 Cancri e is not only hot but also mysterious. Generally, a planet close to the sun is tidally locked which will make the part directly facing the sun, the hottest.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

But, Cancri e’s characteristics are different. The parts directly facing the sun are not the hottest on the planet, but are rather placed at offset locations.

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

Researchers believe that this mysterious behaviour could be the result of a dynamic atmosphere. “55 Cancri e could have a thick atmosphere dominated by oxygen or nitrogen,”

James Webb Telescope to Start ‘Full Operation,' This Super-earth is its First Target

said Renyu Hu, the team lead for the Webb’s examination mission for the 55 Cancri e, in a statement.