The James Webb Space Telescope has given us some of the sharpest images of planets in our solar system, and recent images released show incredible images of Neptune and its rings for the first time since 1989.
Not only have the rings been captured, but the dust lanes of the planet as well.
“It’s been three decades since we’ve seen these faint, dusty rings, and this is the first time we’ve seen them in the infrared,” said Heidi Hammel, Webb Interdisciplinary Scientist for Solar System Observations and vice-president for science at the Association. universities for astronomy research, said in a statement.
The images, released by NASA on Wednesday, were taken using the telescope’s near-infrared camera which has three infrared filters “that show detail” of planets that cannot be seen by the human eye. Therefore, Neptune does not appear blue in photos.
However, the camera’s “stable and precise” image quality allowed the telescope to capture the rings surrounding the planet.
Neptune sits at the end of our solar system, as the icy giant is about 30 times farther from the sun than Earth, according to NASA, and is the only planet not visible to the naked eye. It takes the planet about 165 years to orbit the sun, and it’s so far from the sun that noon on the planet feels like a dark twilight on Earth.
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The telescope also captured some details surrounding the planet’s atmosphere. Neptune is primarily composed of hydrogen and helium, but high latitude clouds composed of methane can be observed in various regions. A thin, bright line near the equator could be a “visual signature of the global atmospheric circulation that powers Neptune’s winds and storms”, as the planet can cause winds to exceed 1,200 miles per hour.
Near the rings are six of the planet’s 14 moons – Galatea, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Proteus and Larissa. In a wide shot of the planet, there appears to be a bright star northwest of Neptune, but it’s actually its large moon, Triton, which is the only known moon that orbits its planet in the opposite direction. .
The James Webb Space Telescope has also taken images of Jupiter and Mars.
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