NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Spots Hot and Gritty Clouds in Skies of Massive Exoplanet with 2 Suns

While we celebrate the previous discoveries of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the sophisticated space observatory just made another fascinating finding that amazes scientists. In its latest observation, JWST looked directly into the atmosphere of a massive exoplanet with two Suns and made the stunning discovery.

The exoplanet is known as VHS 1256 b and scientists studied the latest Webb capture of it to discover that it has turbulent clouds made of silicates which are similar to the sand we have here on Earth. JWST was able to make this fascinating discovery because of its ability to obtain detailed spectra of objects in spaces. Hence, researchers were able to determine the unpleasant and interesting compositions of the exoplanet weather and other features.

The Webb Space Telescope has captured the image of the spectra of exoplanets in the past. However, this is the first time the sophisticated observatory is revealing the spectra of an exoplanet by collecting light from the planet directly. JWST accomplished its latest capture through a method known as direct imaging.

What You Should Know About VHS 1256b

VHS 1256 b is an exoplanet that lies about 40 light years away from Earth. The strange planet orbits around two stars that are locked in their tight rotation. VHS 1256 b clouds are filled with silicate dust which is constantly mixing, rising, and moving around the planet throughout its 22-hour day.

The planet is just the opposite of Earth as it is hostile enough not to host any form of lifeform known to humans. VHS 1256 b is about 19 times more massive than Jupiter. It takes the massive exoplanet about 10,000 years to complete an orbit around its two stars.

“VHS 1256 b is about four times farther from its stars than Pluto is from our sun, which makes it a great target for Webb,” said Brittany Miles, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona and lead author on the new study, in a press release. “That means the planet’s light is not mixed with light from its stars.”

From the spectra discovered by JWST, scientists realize that the strange planet’s clouds are mostly made of silicates. These silicates occasionally rain down into the depths of the exoplanet. They move around the planet in an atmosphere as hot as a flame with a scorching temperature of about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (815 degrees Celsius). The silicate clouds found on this exoplanet are totally strange and cannot be found on Earth. However, scientists are suggesting that some of it may be found in a cloud of hot sand.

“The finer silicate grains in its atmosphere may be more like tiny particles in smoke,” said University of Edinburgh astrophysicist Beth Biller, part of the research team, in the press release. “The larger grains might be more like very hot, very small sand particles.”

Other Discoveries Made by Scientists on the Massive Exoplanet with 2 Suns

Scientists also discovered water, carbon monoxide, methane, and carbon dioxide on the massive exoplanet. Hence, the press release made by the scientists revealed that VHS 1256b consists of a large number of different chemicals. This makes VHS 1256b the planet with the largest number of molecules ever discovered all at once on an exoplanet.

The team of researchers was fascinated with this discovery. They are working on researching more on all the detected particles to accurately determine the conditions of the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

“This is not the final word on this planet,” Miles said. “It is the beginning of a large-scale modeling effort to fit Webb’s complex data.”

The scientists published their findings in Astrophysical Journal Letters.


This discovery has continued to fascinate scientists and inspire them to conduct more observations on the massive exoplanet. In addition, future observations will enable scientists to learn more about the star system and know why VHS 1256b has a strange environment. What do you think about this fascinating discovery?

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