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New discoveries by Webb telescope

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: IE


Context: Scientists using the James Webb Space Telescope have discovered methane and carbon dioxide on the exoplanet K2-18 b.

  • K2-18 b is located in the “Goldilocks zone” around the cool dwarf star K2-18, where it receives just enough starlight to maintain liquid water.
  • It’s considered a “Hycean planet,” a hypothetical type of water-covered planet with a hydrogen-rich atmosphere that some scientists believe is a good candidate for the search for signs of life.
  • The presence of methane and carbon dioxide, along with a shortage of ammonia, supports the hypothesis that K2-18 b may have a water ocean beneath its hydrogen-rich atmosphere.
  • The study also suggests the possible detection of a molecule called dimethyl sulphide, which on Earth is primarily produced by life, particularly phytoplankton in the oceans.