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NASA’s Webb space telescope reveals rocky planets can form in extreme environments

An international team of astronomers has used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to provide the first observation of water and other molecules in the highly irradiated inner, rocky-planet-forming regions of a disk in one of the most extreme environments in our galaxy, NASA said on Friday.

These results suggest that the conditions for terrestrial planet formation can occur in a possible broader range of environments than previously thought, according to NASA.

Understanding the impact of environment on planet formation is important for scientists to gain insights into the diversity of the different types of exoplanets.

“Webb is the only telescope with the spatial resolution and sensitivity to study planet-forming disks in massive star-forming regions,” said team lead María Claudia Ramírez-Tannus of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany.

Astronomers aim to characterize the physical properties and chemical composition of the rocky-planet-forming regions of disks in the Lobster Nebula using the Medium Resolution Spectrometer on Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument.

James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb helps solve mysteries in the solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of universe in it, according to NASA.

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