First exoplanet picture from James Webb Space Telescope

Starfield with star hip 65426 highlighted, shining down to four different boxes hosting purple, blue, yellow and red pictures of the exoplanet. The exoplanet resembles a round smudge of light, and each image has a small white star just above the exoplanet.
HIP 65426 b in four different bands of infrared light. The star, which has been filtered out by coronagraphs, is marked by a small white star in each image. Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team, and A. Pagan (STScI)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has continued its dazzling tour of the galaxy, with its first picture of an exoplanet.

The exoplanet, HIP 65426 b, is a gas giant almost 400 light-years away from Earth.

The planet is roughly nine times the mass of Jupiter, and only about 15-20 million years old: a fraction of Earth’s 4.5 billion years.

It orbits the star HIP 65426 – but it’s about 100 times further out from the star than Earth is from our sun. This distance makes it easier to spot.

Previously, it’s been difficult to capture pictures of exoplanets, because they are shrouded in light from their star.

But Webb’s  instruments can block out the star’s light and focus on planets. These masks which filter the light, called coronagraphs, are not new – but combining them with the telescope’s sensitive instruments is opening up new arenas.

Read more: How James Webb images are produced

The JWST captured the exoplanet in four different hues of infrared light, using its MIRI and NIRCam instrument.

Each of these pictures represents different wavelengths of infrared light: from right to left, 3.00, 4.44, 11.4, and 15.5 micrometres, respectively.

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