SEPTEMBER 20, 2022 — The universe continues to unfold and Thayne Currie, UTSA associate professor of astrophysics, is thrilled with the first-ever images of distant worlds seen by the James Webb Science Telescope (JWST).
As a member of the JWST Early Release Science Program in Exoplanet Direct Imaging, Currie is among a handful of professors in the UTSA College of Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy who are taking part in unveiling the galactic discoveries realized by the JWST.
JWST recently captured the exoplanet, called HIP 65426 b, through several different light filters. An exoplanet—also called an extrasolar planet—is a planet outside a solar system that orbits another star.
The James Webb Space Telescope recently captured the exoplanet HIP 65426 b through several different light filters.
Over 5,000 exoplanets have now been discovered. Exoplanets have a wide range of properties from massive gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn, ice giants like Neptune, and terrestrial planets primarily comprised of silicates or metals.
Like Jupiter, the JWST-imaged exoplanet HIP 65426 b is a gas giant planet. However, it is about seven times more massive than Jupiter, almost 50% larger in radius, and orbits 18 times further from its star than Jupiter orbits from the Sun. While planets within the solar system are about 4.5 billion years old, HIP 65426 b is likely a newly formed planet aged around 10 to 20 million years old.
Observing an exoplanet in a range of various wavelengths, Currie explained, sheds light on information about its composition and provides better insights on the formation and evolution of planets within our solar system.
“For thousands of years, we only knew about planets in our own solar system. In the last 30 years, we have discovered planets around other stars; about 20 have been imaged,” Currie said. “This recent image is captured using mid-infrared wavelengths that give us better clues about its luminosity, temperature and other atmospheric properties.”
The JWST launched last year on Christmas Day aboard a rocket in French Guinea. The telescope is the largest and most powerful space science telescope in (and out of) the world, efficiently producing images of space with the sharpest details. When it was being designed 25 years ago, none of the exoplanets that are known today had been discovered yet. Now, scientists are able to study atmospheric compositions in depth, discovering properties like water vapor.
In the future, Currie hopes to use the JWST to reveal images of exoplanets more like those in our solar system and potentially habitable worlds.
“The direct-imaging capabilities of the Webb Telescope may be even more powerful than we anticipated, allowing us to study planets at wavelengths where it is difficult to image them from the ground,” Currie said. “I’m excited that we can bring the opportunity to study exoplanets using NASA telescopes like the Webb into the classroom for students to discover the universe.”
The Racial Justice Book Club was established at UTSA by members of the campus community to explore social justice following acts of racial violence across the nation over the last few years. We are reading The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas by Monica Muñoz Martinez. We will meet every Wednesday in September and October at 2 pm on Zoom.Virtual Event
The touring ensemble of five London actors will perform Shakespeare’s _Macbeth in the UTSA Recital Hall.Recital Hall, Main Campus
Session for parents to learn about how to prepare for their children's future in higher education.Buena Vista Street. Building (BVB 1.326,) Downtown Campus
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at our very own street fair - Calle UTSA. We will have activities, performances, food, music, and piñatas to break open.Student Union Paseo
"La Plática" is a space for thoughtful dialogue to build a sense of connection among the Roadrunner Community by getting to know each other better and sharing what's on our minds and about ourselves to increase to increase awareness of diverse perspectives.Virtual Event
This September 30, the Friday Series will feature Prof. Milena Ang, who will be presenting A Tren to Nowhere: Statistic Development and the Politics of Racial, a paper co-authored with Tania Islas-Weistein where they discuss Mexico's long history of state-led development projects that contribute to economic and racial inequality. The authors argue that despite professing racial justice, official discourses surrounding the Tren Maya reproduce existing symbolic and material forms of racism.McKinney Humanities (MH 4.01.01,) Main Campus
We invite you to learn about the process of screenwriting and explore the intersection of identity and pursuing dreams from Jorge Ramirez-Martinez and Raymond Perez, screenwriters for the Selena: The Series, released on Netflix. They will discuss their careers and writing process, including how their identities as Mexican American and gay men have shaped their professional experiences.Virtual Event
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