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Do Earth-Sized Planets Around Other Stars Have Atmospheres? James Webb Will Find Out!

23 Jan 2018, 15:01 UTC
Do Earth-Sized Planets Around Other Stars Have Atmospheres? James Webb Will Find Out! NASA/R. Hurt/T. Pyle

Perhaps the most revolutionary find of the past generation, when we think about the Universe beyond Earth, is the discovery that our Solar System isn’t the only one out there. 30 years ago, we had yet to find a single planet beyond our own Solar System; today, we’re aware of thousands. The rapid developments in exoplanetology have taught us that there are more planets than stars in the Universe, and that Earth-sized, potentially habitable worlds are common. In fact, there are likely hundreds of billions of such worlds in our galaxy alone.

But the majority of these worlds are around red dwarf stars: stars where flares and activity are common, and many scientists contend that worlds around these stars should have no atmospheres by now. Is it true, or might they be habitable after all? Here’s how the James Webb Space Telescope will find out.

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