The powerful Webb telescope doesn't need to take pretty pictures to revolutionize our grasp of the cosmos.
Astronomers focused the space observatory — which successfully reached its outpost one million miles from Earth this year — on the Saturn-like exoplanet (meaning planet beyond our solar system) WASP-39 b. It's a hot, gas giant closely orbiting a star 700 light-years away. Previously, scientists used specialized instruments aboard Webb to detect the gas carbon dioxide on this extreme world.
Image: An artist's conception of the distant exoplanet WASP-39 b. Credit: NASA / ESA / CSA / J. Olmsted (STScI)