We’ve got our first look at Neptune’s rings in 33 years and they’re gorgeous

(ORDO NEWS) — The first image of Neptune, taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, shows the latest infrared details of the ice giant’s atmosphere, moons and rings.

Some of these details, such as the faint dust lanes surrounding Neptune, have not been detected since the Voyager 2 probe flew by in 1989.

“It’s been three decades since we last saw these faint dust lanes, and this is the first time we’ve seen them in infrared,” astronomer Heidi Hummel, an interdisciplinary scientist, said in a press release today (September 21). from the JWST team, which specializes in Neptune. The brighter rings of Neptune are even more visible.

In visible light images, Neptune appears as a dark blue dot due to methane in its atmosphere. But the image from the JWST Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, paints the planet’s disk in pearly whites. High-altitude clouds of methane ice look like bright streaks and spots.

A continuous band of high-latitude clouds can be seen surrounding the vortex at Neptune’s south pole.

There’s also a thin line of brightness at the equator, which the JWST team says could be a visual sign of the global atmospheric circulation that powers Neptune’s winds and storms. This warm stream glows brighter in the infrared.

The full image shows seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons, including the glittering dot of light that is Neptune’s largest moon, Triton. (Astronomers suspect that Triton is actually an icy world from the Solar System’s Kuiper Belt trapped in Neptune’s gravitational field.)

Weve got our first look at Neptunes rings in 33 years and theyre gorgeous
Neptune system. In the upper left corner is Neptune’s moon Triton, with Webb’s characteristic eight diffraction spikes, an artifact of the telescope’s structure

JWST infrared thermal imagers are optimized for observation beyond the boundaries of space, including objects with a strong redshift near the edge of the observed area. Universe.

Infrared detectors are also well suited for searching dusty nebulae and analyzing the atmospheres of alien planets.

But as the images posted today show, JWST can also produce fresh images. celestial objects in our own solar system.

Last month, astronomers presented the first images of Jupiter, as well as its auroras and faint rings.

And this month, JWST received its first images and spectral data from Mars.

It’s been eight months since the 6-ton telescope arrived at the observation point a million miles from Earth, and so far astronomers have been amazed by the results.

In addition, there were failures, and, unlike the Hubble Space Telescope in its heyday, for the maintenance crew to call the service department.

The most recent problem is increased friction in one of the mechanisms of the JWST Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI. Because of this problem, the JWST team has suspended MIRI observations in medium-resolution spectroscopy mode until an adequate solution can be found.

On the other hand, MIRI can still make observations in other modes, and NIRCam, the instrument that captured the telescope’s view of Neptune, did not suffer from a malfunction.

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