Planetary System

Narration: Amber Straughn and John Mather


Another one of the big goals of the James Webb Space Telescope is to see how planetary systems got their start. So that would be akin to thinking about how our solar system was several billion years ago. So looking at the big disks of gas and dust that eventually form stars and planets. Another really great thing about Webb being an infrared telescope is the fact that a lot of the really interesting components in a planet’s atmosphere happen to fall in the infrared part of the spectrum. When a star has a planet that goes in front of the star and blocks some of the starlight we can say ah, now we know how big that planet was and also we can begin to explore the light that goes through the planet’s atmosphere on its way to our telescope. We spread that out into a spectrum as well and we can see can now what chemical in the atmosphere of another planet. So for example we can look for things like water vapor or carbon dioxide, those types of things. So the Webb telescope is definitely our next step in our search for life in the universe.