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Get a clearest view of Neptune and its rings | See photo

James Webb Space Telescope's capabilities of capturing the clearest pictures of Neptune and its rings. (Twitter)Premium
James Webb Space Telescope's capabilities of capturing the clearest pictures of Neptune and its rings. (Twitter)

  • NASA has revealed James Webb Space Telescope's capabilities of capturing the clearest pictures of Neptune and its rings.
  • It has not only captured the clearest view of this distant plant's rings in more than 30 years, but also reveal the ice giant in a whole new light.

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NASA has revealed James Webb Space Telescope's capabilities of capturing the clearest pictures of Neptune and its rings. It has not only captured the clearest view of this distant plant's rings in more than 30 years, but also reveal the ice giant in a whole new light, according to an official statement released by the American space agency.

Taking to Twitter, NASA Webb Telescope wrote, “Hey Neptune. Did you ring? Webb’s latest image is the clearest look at Neptune's rings in 30+ years, and our first time seeing them in infrared light. Take in Webb's ghostly, ethereal views of the planet and its dust bands, rings and moons."

“It has been three decades since we last saw these faint, dusty rings, and this is the first time we’ve seen them in the infrared," said Heidi Hammel in a NASA release, a Neptune system expert and interdisciplinary scientist for Webb.

Neptune was discovered by the researchers in 1846 and since then, it is fascinating them. The planet is located 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth and orbits in the remote, dark region of the outer solar system. The sun is so distant for Neptune that it is similar to a din twilight on Earth. 

The planet is characterized as an ice giant due to the chemical make-up of its interior. Neptune is much richer in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium as compared to the gas giants--Jupiter and Saturn. This is readily apparent in Neptune’s signature blue appearance in Hubble Space Telescope images at visible wavelengths, caused by small amounts of gaseous methane, the statement read.

According to the NASA release, Neptune does not appear blue to Webb in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns. In fact, the methane gas so strongly absorbs red and infrared light that the planet is quite dark at these near-infrared wavelengths, except where high-altitude clouds are present. Such methane-ice clouds are prominent as bright streaks and spots, which reflect sunlight before it is absorbed by methane gas. Images from other observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory, have recorded these rapidly evolving cloud features over the years.

A thin line of brightness circling the planet’s equator could be a visual signature of global atmospheric circulation that powers Neptune’s winds and storms. The atmosphere descends and warms at the equator, and thus glows at infrared wavelengths more than the surrounding, cooler gases.

Neptune’s 164-year orbit means its northern pole, at the top of this image, is just out of view for astronomers, but the Webb images hint at an intriguing brightness in that area. A previously-known vortex at the southern pole is evident in Webb’s view, but for the first time Webb has revealed a continuous band of high-latitude clouds surrounding it.

Webb has also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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