Everyone knows that the James Webb Space Telescope is a ground-breaking infrared space telescope that’s helping us better understand the cosmos. The JWST’s discerning infrared eyes are deepening our understanding of everything from exoplanets to primitive galaxies to the birth of stars.
But it’s not the first ground-breaking infrared space telescope we’ve launched. There was IRAS, then ISO, then the Spitzer Space Telescope. The Spitzer is the JWST’s most recent infrared predecessor, and the JWST is observing one of the same targets that the Spitzer did, taking note of some puzzling changes.
As planet-hunting scientists find more and more planets, they’ve encountered some puzzles. One of them concerns the lack of Neptune-size worlds orbiting close to their stars. Astronomers think that these planets aren’t massive enough to retain their atmospheres in the face of their stars’ powerful radiation, which strips it away.
But at least one of these planets has retained its atmosphere. How?