Astronomers from the University of Exeter have led the effort to capture the first-ever direct image of an exoplanet using the pioneering James Webb Space Telescope.
The remarkable image shows the gas giant HIP65426b, about five to 10 times the mass of Jupiter and formed 15–20 million years ago.
The observations were led by Professor Sasha Hinkley from the University of Exeter, in collaboration with an international team of researchers.
Astronomers discovered the planet in 2017 using the SPHERE instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile.
These previous images of the planet were produced using short infrared wavelengths of light, and covered only a relatively narrow range of the overall emission from the planet.
For the new image, research team used mid- and thermal-infrared light, revealing new details.
These include details about the chemical composition of the planet's atmosphere , which appears red due to minerals, called silicates, forming fine dust in the atmosphere.
The team believe the image shows how the James Webb Telescope's powerful infrared gaze can capture more worlds beyond our solar system.
JWST's Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) are both equipped with coronagraphs.
Which are sets of tiny masks that block out starlight, enabling Webb to take direct images of certain exoplanets like this one.