(NBC News) — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured its first direct images of a planet beyond our solar system.
The planet, called HIP 65426 b, is a gas giant with no rocky surface, which means it likely cannot support alien life, according to astronomers who described the images in a NASA blog post published Thursday. The scientists are preparing a paper about the observations, but the findings have yet to be peer-reviewed.
The observations are notable, however, because they hint at how the Webb telescope could be used to search for potentially habitable planets elsewhere in the universe.
“This is a transformative moment, not only for Webb but also for astronomy generally,” Sasha Hinkley, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. Hinkley led the observations of HIP 65426 b with an international team.