First Observations of the Brown Dwarf HD 19467 B with JWST

We observed HD 19467 B with JWST's NIRCam in six filters spanning 2.5-4.6 μm with the Long Wavelength Bar coronagraph. The brown dwarf HD 19467 B was initially identified through a long-period trend in the radial velocity of G3V star HD 19467. HD 19467 B was subsequently detected via coronagraphic imaging and spectroscopy, and characterized as a late-T type brown dwarf with approximate temperature ∼1000K. We observed HD 19467 B as a part of the NIRCam GTO science program, demonstrating the first use of the NIRCam Long Wavelength Bar coronagraphic mask. The object was detected in all 6 filters (contrast levels of 2×10−4 to 2×10−5) at a separation of 1.6 arcsec using Angular Differential Imaging (ADI) and Synthetic Reference Differential Imaging (SynRDI). Due to a guidestar failure during acquisition of a pre-selected reference star, no reference star data was available for post-processing. However, RDI was successfully applied using synthetic Point Spread Functions (PSFs) developed from contemporaneous maps of the telescope's optical configuration. Additional radial velocity data (from Keck/HIRES) are used to constrain the orbit of HD 19467 B. Photometric data from TESS are used to constrain the properties of the host star, particularly its age. NIRCam photometry, spectra and photometry from literature, and improved stellar parameters are used in conjunction with recent spectral and evolutionary substellar models to derive physical properties for HD 19467 B. Using an age of 9.4±0.9 Gyr inferred from spectroscopy, Gaia astrometry, and TESS asteroseismology, we obtain a model-derived mass of 62±1MJ, which is consistent within 2-σ with the dynamically derived mass of 81+14−12MJ

JADES Imaging of GN-z11: Revealing the Morphology and Environment of a Luminous Galaxy 430 Myr After the Big Bang

We present JWST NIRCam 9-band near-infrared imaging of the luminous z=10.6 galaxy GN-z11 from the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) of the GOODS-N field. We find a spectral energy distribution (SED) entirely consistent with the expected form of a high-redshift galaxy: a clear blue continuum from 1.5 to 4 microns with a complete dropout in F115W. The core of GN-z11 is extremely compact in JWST imaging. We analyze the image with a two-component model, using a point source and a Sérsic profile that fits to a half-light radius of 200 pc and an index n=0.9. We find a low-surface brightness haze about 0.4′′ to the northeast of the galaxy, which is most likely a foreground object but might be a more extended component of GN-z11. At a spectroscopic redshift of 10.60 (Bunker et al. 2023), the comparison of the NIRCam F410M and F444W images spans the Balmer jump. From population synthesis modeling, here assuming no light from an active galactic nucleus, we reproduce the SED of GN-z11, finding a stellar mass of ∼109 M⊙, a star-formation rate of ∼20 M⊙ yr−1 and a young stellar age of ∼20 Myr. As massive galaxies at high redshift are likely to be highly clustered, we search for faint neighbors of GN-z11, finding 9 galaxies out to ∼5 comoving Mpc transverse with photometric redshifts consistent with z=10.6, and a 10th more tentative dropout only 3′′ away.

Airing now on PBS in the states:

Join scientists as they use NASA’s brand new James Webb Space Telescope to peer deep in time to hunt for the first stars and galaxies in our universe, and try to detect the fingerprints of life in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets

Airing: 02/22/23
Well, it's launched and functioning gloriously now and I'm happy about that, so perhaps it's possible to look at this without getting steamed up.

May be paywalled, so the essence is:

Megaprojects like HS2 are the subject of an entertaining new book called “How Big Things Get Done” by Bent Flyvbjerg... By his reckoning, only 8.5% of projects meet their initial estimates on cost and time, and a piddling 0.5% achieve what they set out to do on cost, time and benefits.

Over-optimistic time and cost estimates stem from both psychological and political biases... when budgets are deliberately lowballed in order to get things going, on the premise that nothing would ever get built if politicians went around being accurate. The sunk-cost fallacy, whereby people hesitate to halt projects because money spent will seem to have been wasted, means that the plug is seldom pulled once work is under way.

The more that a project can be disaggregated into replicable processes, the better its prospects...

Standardised designs and manufacturing processes for everything from train tracks to viaducts helped China build the world’s largest high-speed rail network in less than a decade at the start of this century.

...the scrutiny and the objectives of big public-infrastructure projects differ from those of corporate initiatives.

I would think that the last sentence is particularly applicable to projects like JWST - but not only JWST. Constant external scrutiny may create delay and exacerbate existing problems. Moving goalposts aren't mentioned in the brief review article, but that impacted the B-2 programme severely.
JWST finds that TRAPPIST-1b almost certainly has no atmosphere, or a very negligible atmosphere.

Thermal Emission from the Earth-sized Exoplanet TRAPPIST-1 b using JWST

The TRAPPIST-1 system is remarkable for its seven planets that are similar in size, mass, density, and stellar heating to the rocky planets Venus, Earth, and Mars in our own Solar System (1). All TRAPPIST-1 planets have been observed with the transmission spectroscopy technique using the Hubble or Spitzer Space Telescopes, but no atmospheric features have been detected or strongly constrained (2,3,4,5). TRAPPIST-1 b is the closest planet to the system’s M dwarf star, and it receives 4 times as much irradiation as Earth receives from the Sun. This relatively large amount of stellar heating suggests that its thermal emission may be measurable. Here we present photometric secondary eclipse observations of the Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 b exoplanet using the F1500W filter of the MIRI instrument on JWST. We detect the secondary eclipse in each of five separate observations with 8.7-sigma confidence when all data are combined. These measurements are most consistent with re-radiation of the TRAPPIST-1 star’s incident flux from only the dayside hemisphere of the planet. The most straightforward interpretation is that there is little or no planetary atmosphere redistributing radiation from the host star and also no detectable atmospheric absorption from carbon dioxide (CO2) or other species.

Uranus in 4K by JWST:

A more detailed video by TheSpaceBucket:

We are approaching an entire year of science operations with the James Webb Space Telescope since it became fully operational in the middle of last year. Most recently, NASA revealed new images of Uranus which show off its rings like never before. These images were taken with the Near Infrared Camera back on February 6th.
In addition to the rings, these new images show off the planet’s moons and various features, unlike any other image. All of which is thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb is hoping to solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it.
In the relatively short time Webb has been in operation, it produced some incredible images and data, enough to change how a lot of scientists see the universe. Here I will go more in-depth into the recent Uranus image, what exactly Webb has been up to, what we should expect in the coming months, and more.
JWST/NIRCam discovery of the first Y+Y brown dwarf binary: WISE J033605.05−014350.4

We report the discovery of the first brown dwarf binary system with a Y dwarf primary, WISE J033605.05−014350.4, observed with NIRCam on JWST with the F150W and F480M filters. We employed an empirical point spread function binary model to identify the companion, located at a projected separation of 84 milliarcseconds, position angle of 295 degrees, and with contrast of 2.8 and 1.8 magnitudes in F150W and F480M, respectively. At a distance of 10pc based on its Spitzer parallax, and assuming a random inclination distribution, the physical separation is approximately 1au. Evolutionary models predict for that an age of 1-5 Gyr, the companion mass is about 4-12.5 Jupiter masses around the 7.5-20 Jupiter mass primary, corresponding to a companion-to-host mass fraction of q=0.61±0.05. Under the assumption of a Keplerian orbit the period for this extreme binary is in the range of 5-9 years. The system joins a small but growing sample of ultracool dwarf binaries with effective temperatures of a few hundreds of Kelvin. Brown dwarf binaries lie at the nexus of importance for understanding the formation mechanisms of these elusive objects, as they allow us to investigate whether the companions formed as stars or as planets in a disk around the primary.

A new Webb Space Telescope image of the bright, nearby star Fomalhaut reveals its planetary system with details never seen before, including nested concentric rings of dust. These belts most likely are carved by the gravitational forces produced by embedded, unseen planets. Similarly, inside our solar system Jupiter corrals the asteroid belt of leftover debris that lies between us and the giant planet. Astronomers first discovered Fomalhaut’s disk in 1983. But there has never been a view as spectacular – or as revealing – as Webb’s.

An international team of astronomers has used the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to observe a luminous dusty star-forming galaxy known as GN20. Results of the observational campaign, published April 26 on the arXiv preprint server, deliver important insights into the stellar structure of this galaxy.

Related paper:

What it’s like to have your application for observing time on JWST turned down. They had applied for time to observe two exoplanets to see if they had exomoons. Perhaps it’s just me but it’s possible that he’s implying that the committee who allocate time have had a failure of imagination in this case.

NASA’s Webb Finds Water, and a New Mystery, in Rare Main Belt Comet

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has enabled another long-sought scientific breakthrough, this time for solar system scientists studying the origins of Earth’s abundant water. Using Webb’s NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) instrument, astronomers have confirmed gas – specifically water vapor – around a comet in the main asteroid belt for the first time, indicating that water ice from the primordial solar system can be preserved in that region. However, the successful detection of water comes with a new puzzle: unlike other comets, Comet 238P/Read had no detectable carbon dioxide.
Astronomers using the most powerful telescope ever built have identified a massive, densely packed galaxy 25 billion light years away.

The galaxy—known as GS-9209—formed just 600 to 800 million years after the Big Bang, and is the earliest of its kind found to date, researchers say.

Analysis also shows that GS-9209 contains a supermassive black hole at its center that is five times larger than astronomers might anticipate in a galaxy with this number of stars. The discovery could explain why GS-9209 stopped forming new stars, the team says.

Related paper:

Webb Maps Surprisingly Large Plume Jetting From Saturn’s Moon Enceladus

A water vapor plume from Saturn’s moon Enceladus spanning more than 6,000 miles – nearly the distance from Los Angeles, California to Buenos Aires, Argentina – has been detected by researchers using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Not only is this the first time such a water emission has been seen over such an expansive distance, but Webb is also giving scientists a direct look, for the first time, at how this emission feeds the water supply for the entire system of Saturn and its rings.

Enceladus, an ocean world about four percent the size of Earth, just 313 miles across, is one of the most exciting scientific targets in our solar system in the search for life beyond Earth. Sandwiched between the moon’s icy outer crust and its rocky core is a global reservoir of salty water. Geyser-like volcanos spew jets of ice particles, water vapor, and organic chemicals out of crevices in the moon’s surface informally called ‘tiger stripes.’

Previously, observatories have mapped jets hundreds of miles from the moon’s surface, but Webb’s exquisite sensitivity reveals a new story.

“When I was looking at the data, at first, I was thinking I had to be wrong. It was just so shocking to detect a water plume more than 20 times the size of the moon,” said lead author Geronimo Villanueva of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The water plume extends far beyond its release region at the southern pole.”

The length of the plume was not the only characteristic that intrigued researchers. The rate at which the water vapor is gushing out, about 79 gallons per second, is also particularly impressive. At this rate, you could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in just a couple of hours. In comparison, doing so with a garden hose on Earth would take more than 2 weeks.

The Cassini orbiter spent over a decade exploring the Saturnian system, and not only imaged the plumes of Enceladus for the first time but flew directly through them and sampled what they were made of. While Cassini’s position within the Saturnian system provided invaluable insights into this distant moon, Webb’s unique view from the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 2 one million miles from Earth, along with the remarkable sensitivity of its Integral Field Unit aboard the NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph) Instrument, is offering new context.

“The orbit of Enceladus around Saturn is relatively quick, just 33 hours. As it whips around Saturn, the moon and its jets are basically spitting off water, leaving a halo, almost like a donut, in its wake,” said Villanueva. “In the Webb observations, not only was the plume huge, but there was just water absolutely everywhere.”

This fuzzy donut of water that appeared ‘everywhere,’ described as a torus, is co-located with Saturn’s outermost and widest ring – the dense “E-ring.”

The Webb observations directly demonstrate how the moon’s water vapor plumes feed the torus. By analyzing the Webb data, astronomers have determined roughly 30 percent of the water stays within this torus, and the other 70 percent escapes to supply the rest of the Saturnian system of water.

In the coming years, Webb will serve as the primary observation tool for ocean moon Enceladus, and discoveries from Webb will help inform future solar system satellite missions that will look to explore the subsurface ocean’s depth, how thick the ice crust is, and more.

“Right now, Webb provides a unique way to directly measure how water evolves and changes over time across Enceladus' immense plume, and as we see here, we will even make new discoveries and learn more about the composition of the underlying ocean,” added co-author Stefanie Milam at NASA Goddard. “Because of Webb’s wavelength coverage and sensitivity, and what we’ve learned from previous missions, we have an entire new window of opportunity in front of us.”

Webb’s observations of Enceladus were completed under Guaranteed Time Observation (GTO) program 1250. The initial goal of this program is to demonstrate the capabilities of Webb in a particular area of science and set the stage for future studies.

“This program was essentially a proof of concept after many years of developing the observatory, and it’s just thrilling that all this science has already come out of quite a short amount of observation time,” said Heidi Hammel of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Webb interdisciplinary scientist and leader of the GTO program.

The team’s results were recently accepted for publication in Nature Astronomy on May 17, and a pre-print is available here.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency), and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

Webb celebrates first year of science with close-up on the birth of Sun-like stars

Here's an interesting video from TheSpaceBucket concerning NASA's target selection process for deciding what is next observed by the JWST:

The James Webb Space Telescope was designed for an operational lifetime of at least 5 years, however, the agency believes 20 is possible. No matter the result, the time with this next-generation space telescope is limited, and every minute counts. This brings up the question of how the agency picks what to observe and when, with practically unlimited options.
In reality, this process involves years of preparation and many proposals from all different types of scientists and astronomers. With thousands of proposals coming in, the agency assings certain individuals who are expects in their respective fields to review and help pick observations. A process that is extremely important based on the lifetime of Webb and the time available to access this technology.
Here I will go more in-depth into the entire decision and process, what Webb has been up to, the current state of the telescope, and more.
The most recent batch of processed photos from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope features the Messier 57 nebula in never-before-seen clarity, informing astronomers of our sun’s future with new depth and charm.

It would appear that the JWST is having problems with its' MIRI sensor, from TheSpaceBucket:

The James Webb Space Telescope has been very busy since arriving at L2 back in early 2022. Already it has captured some incredible images and helped alter scientists’ perception of the Universe. At the same time, there have been a few complications along the way, including a recent issue with the MIRI instrument that may affect future operations.
Earlier this year the MIRI MRS mode indicated a reduction in the amount of light registered by the instrument. At the time, however, there wasn’t quite enough data and measurements to determine the exact problem. This being said, just days ago NASA released a new report highlighting that there is a reduced count rate in the long-wavelength filters of the MIRI Imager.
The anomaly will have an impact on the amount of exposure time needed when the instrument switches to the particular mode that’s been affected. The agency has also encouraged observers to contact them if their recent or planned science programs used or will utilize the Imager long wavelength filters. Here I will go more in-depth into the MIRI complication, how big of a deal this problem is, how it will affect future science operations, and more.

I hope this problem can be successfully resolved by remote commands as unlike the HST the JWST is impossible to service.
Fingers and Toes crossed the issue can be solved as you rightly say NMaude the JWST cannot be fixed like they could the HST.
Webb Discovers Methane, Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere of K2-18 b

A new investigation with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope into K2-18 b, an exoplanet 8.6 times as massive as Earth, has revealed the presence of carbon-bearing molecules including methane and carbon dioxide. Webb’s discovery adds to recent studies suggesting that K2-18 b could be a Hycean exoplanet, one which has the potential to possess a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and a water ocean-covered surface.

The first insight into the atmospheric properties of this habitable-zone exoplanet came from observations with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which prompted further studies that have since changed our understanding of the system.

K2-18 b orbits the cool dwarf star K2-18 in the habitable zone and lies 120 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo. Exoplanets such as K2-18 b, which have sizes between those of Earth and Neptune, are unlike anything in our solar system. This lack of equivalent nearby planets means that these ‘sub-Neptunes’ are poorly understood, and the nature of their atmospheres is a matter of active debate among astronomers.

The suggestion that the sub-Neptune K2-18 b could be a Hycean exoplanet is intriguing, as some astronomers believe that these worlds are promising environments to search for evidence for life on exoplanets.

"Our findings underscore the importance of considering diverse habitable environments in the search for life elsewhere," explained Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge and lead author of the paper announcing these results. "Traditionally, the search for life on exoplanets has focused primarily on smaller rocky planets, but the larger Hycean worlds are significantly more conducive to atmospheric observations."

The abundance of methane and carbon dioxide, and shortage of ammonia, support the hypothesis that there may be a water ocean underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere in K2-18 b. These initial Webb observations also provided a possible detection of a molecule called dimethyl sulfide (DMS). On Earth, this is only produced by life. The bulk of the DMS in Earth’s atmosphere is emitted from phytoplankton in marine environments.

The inference of DMS is less robust and requires further validation. “Upcoming Webb observations should be able to confirm if DMS is indeed present in the atmosphere of K2-18 b at significant levels,” explained Madhusudhan.

While K2-18 b lies in the habitable zone, and is now known to harbor carbon-bearing molecules, this does not necessarily mean that the planet can support life. The planet's large size — with a radius 2.6 times the radius of Earth — means that the planet’s interior likely contains a large mantle of high-pressure ice, like Neptune, but with a thinner hydrogen-rich atmosphere and an ocean surface. Hycean worlds are predicted to have oceans of water. However, it is also possible that the ocean is too hot to be habitable or be liquid.

"Although this kind of planet does not exist in our solar system, sub-Neptunes are the most common type of planet known so far in the galaxy," explained team member Subhajit Sarkar of Cardiff University. “We have obtained the most detailed spectrum of a habitable-zone sub-Neptune to date, and this allowed us to work out the molecules that exist in its atmosphere.”

Characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets like K2-18 b — meaning identifying their gases and physical conditions — is a very active area in astronomy. However, these planets are outshone — literally — by the glare of their much larger parent stars, which makes exploring exoplanet atmospheres particularly challenging.

The team sidestepped this challenge by analyzing light from K2-18 b's parent star as it passed through the exoplanet's atmosphere. K2-18 b is a transiting exoplanet, meaning that we can detect a drop in brightness as it passes across the face of its host star. This is how the exoplanet was first discovered in 2015 with NASA’s K2 mission. This means that during transits a tiny fraction of starlight will pass through the exoplanet's atmosphere before reaching telescopes like Webb. The starlight's passage through the exoplanet atmosphere leaves traces that astronomers can piece together to determine the gases of the exoplanet's atmosphere.

"This result was only possible because of the extended wavelength range and unprecedented sensitivity of Webb, which enabled robust detection of spectral features with just two transits," said Madhusudhan. "For comparison, one transit observation with Webb provided comparable precision to eight observations with Hubble conducted over a few years and in a relatively narrow wavelength range."

"These results are the product of just two observations of K2-18 b, with many more on the way,” explained team member Savvas Constantinou of the University of Cambridge. “This means our work here is but an early demonstration of what Webb can observe in habitable-zone exoplanets.”

The team’s results were accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team now intends to conduct follow-up research with the telescope's MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) spectrograph that they hope will further validate their findings and provide new insights into the environmental conditions on K2-18 b.

"Our ultimate goal is the identification of life on a habitable exoplanet, which would transform our understanding of our place in the universe," concluded Madhusudhan. "Our findings are a promising step towards a deeper understanding of Hycean worlds in this quest."

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

Media Contacts:

Laura Betz
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Hannah Braun
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.

Last Updated: Sep 11, 2023
Editor: Isabelle Yan
Tags: Astrobiology, Exoplanets, Goddard Space Flight Center, James Webb Space Telescope, Universe

Last edited:
It would appear that the JWST is having problems with its' MIRI sensor, from TheSpaceBucket:

I hope this problem can be successfully resolved by remote commands as unlike the HST the JWST is impossible to service.
this likely could not be repaired regardless
That is sad for the JWST if they cannot repair the MIRI sensor. Is there any way that they can by pass the sensor?
this likely could not be repaired regardless

Thank you for stating the obvious.

That is sad for the JWST if they cannot repair the MIRI sensor. Is there any way that they can by pass the sensor?

From what I understand it's not inoperable just merely restricted in its operations in certain long-wave IR bands.
Thank you for stating the obvious.
You must be confused because your statement didn't reflect that. Also, JWST is not "impossible" to service, it just wasn't designed for it. Skylab wasn't designed to be repaired and how did that turn out? HST also had repairs that were not intended to be services

The point was that problems with the instrument were deep within instrument and still would be inaccessible even with JWST designed to be re-serviced . "repairing " an instrument on Hubble meant replacing it with a new different instrument or new upgraded instrument. Instruments were treated like LRUs on Hubble much like aircraft avionics. JWST costs would be so much higher if it was designed for EVA access and backup instruments.
NASA’s Webb Finds Carbon Source on Surface of Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Jupiter’s moon Europa is one of a handful of worlds in our solar system that could potentially harbor conditions suitable for life. Previous research has shown that beneath its water-ice crust lies a salty ocean of liquid water with a rocky seafloor. However, planetary scientists had not confirmed if that ocean contained the chemicals needed for life, particularly carbon.

Astronomers using data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have identified carbon dioxide in a specific region on the icy surface of Europa. Analysis indicates that this carbon likely originated in the subsurface ocean and was not delivered by meteorites or other external sources. Moreover, it was deposited on a geologically recent timescale. This discovery has important implications for the potential habitability of Europa’s ocean.

“On Earth, life likes chemical diversity – the more diversity, the better. We’re carbon-based life. Understanding the chemistry of Europa’s ocean will help us determine whether it’s hostile to life as we know it, or if it might be a good place for life,” said Geronimo Villanueva of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of one of two independent papers describing the findings.

“We now think that we have observational evidence that the carbon we see on Europa’s surface came from the ocean. That's not a trivial thing. Carbon is a biologically essential element,” added Samantha Trumbo of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, lead author of the second paper analyzing these data.

NASA plans to launch its Europa Clipper spacecraft, which will perform dozens of close flybys of Europa to further investigate whether it could have conditions suitable for life, in October 2024.

A Surface-Ocean Connection
Webb finds that on Europa’s surface, carbon dioxide is most abundant in a region called Tara Regio – a geologically young area of generally resurfaced terrain known as “chaos terrain.” The surface ice has been disrupted, and there likely has been an exchange of material between the subsurface ocean and the icy surface.

“Previous observations from the Hubble Space Telescope show evidence for ocean-derived salt in Tara Regio,” explained Trumbo. “Now we’re seeing that carbon dioxide is heavily concentrated there as well. We think this implies that the carbon probably has its ultimate origin in the internal ocean.”

“Scientists are debating how much Europa’s ocean connects to its surface. I think that question has been a big driver of Europa exploration,” said Villanueva. “This suggests that we may be able to learn some basic things about the ocean’s composition even before we drill through the ice to get the full picture.”

Both teams identified the carbon dioxide using data from the integral field unit of Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec). This instrument mode provides spectra with a resolution of 200 x 200 miles (320 x 320 kilometers) on the surface of Europa, which has a diameter of 1,944 miles, allowing astronomers to determine where specific chemicals are located.

Carbon dioxide isn’t stable on Europa’s surface. Therefore, the scientists say it’s likely that it was supplied on a geologically recent timescale – a conclusion bolstered by its concentration in a region of young terrain.

“These observations only took a few minutes of the observatory’s time,” said Heidi Hammel of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, a Webb interdisciplinary scientist leading Webb’s Cycle 1 Guaranteed Time Observations of the solar system. “Even with this short period of time, we were able to do really big science. This work gives a first hint of all the amazing solar system science we’ll be able to do with Webb.”

Searching for a Plume
Villanueva’s team also looked for evidence of a plume of water vapor erupting from Europa’s surface. Researchers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reported tentative detections of plumes in 2013, 2016, and 2017. However, finding definitive proof has been difficult.

The new Webb data shows no evidence of plume activity, which allowed Villanueva’s team to set a strict upper limit on the rate of material potentially being ejected. The team stressed, however, that their non-detection does not rule out a plume.

“There is always a possibility that these plumes are variable and that you can only see them at certain times. All we can say with 100% confidence is that we did not detect a plume at Europa when we made these observations with Webb,” said Hammel.

These findings may help inform NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, as well as ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) upcoming Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE).

The two papers will be published in Science on Sept. 21.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier space science observatory. Webb is solving mysteries in our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

Media Contacts:

Laura Betz
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.


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