Finally, the new James Webb Space Telescope is up and running. A while ago, he showed us our first look at the universe and it was pretty impressive. We now know that thanks to him we will be able to see things that we have not been able to see until now.
And this is where the topic of aliens and other life forms that we hope to see in the universe sooner or later come in. James Webb will be able to record the chemical composition in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, and in this way he can find any signatures associated with life as we know it.
When he began his science operations in July 2022, James Webb read the spectrum of the gas giant exoplanet WASP-96b, which showed the presence of water and clouds, but a large and hot planet such as this is unlikely to harbor life. However, these early data show that faint chemical signals can be detected in the light of exoplanets.
In the coming months, Webb will point his mirrors at TRAPPIST-1e, a potentially habitable Earth-sized planet just 39 light-years from Earth.
But rest assured, he won’t have to do all the work that needs to be done. There are also three massive ground-based telescopes currently under construction that will be able to search for vital signatures: the Giant Magellan Telescope, the Thirty Meter Telescope, and the European Very Large Telescope.
In short, the next generation of exoplanet studies has the potential to overcome the limits of evidence collected so far and perhaps show what we have always tried to observe, that is, we are not alone.
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