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There have been no such photos for 30 years. Neptune’s rings and moons through the lens of the Webb Telescope

NASA publikuje kolejne zdjęcia potwierdzające nadzwyczajne możliwości nowego teleskopu kosmicznego Jamesa Webba. Tym razem mamy okazję obejrzeć zdjęcie naszego podwórka, czyli Układu Słonecznego. Widać na nim Neptuna i jego pierścienie. Webb nie tylko dostarczył astronomom najlepsze zdjęcie ciemniejszych, pyłowych pierścieni tego lodowego giganta od ponad 30 lat, ale i przedstawił tę planetę w zupełnie nowym świetle, dokładnie w bliskiej podczerwieni. Na zdjęciu można dostrzec też 7 z 14 znanych księżyców Neptuna.

NASA releases more images that confirm the extraordinary capabilities of the new James Webb Space Telescope. This time we have the opportunity to see our backyard photo, the solar system. You can see Neptune and its rings. Webb has not only provided astronomers with the best picture of the ice giant’s dark dust rings in more than 30 years, but also presented the planet in an entirely new light, specifically in the near infrared. You can also see 7 of Neptune’s 14 known moons in the image.

It’s the sight of these dark rings that attracts the most attention, some of which haven’t been filmed since 1989, when Voyager 2 spotted them. “It’s been over 30 years since we last noticed these dull and dusty rings, and now it still We see them for the first time in infrared“- Heidi Hummel, researcher of Neptune and its satellites, participating in the research program of the Webb telescope, confirms. The fact that minute rings are visible near the planet itself confirms the exceptional quality and stability of the image.

Neptune, which orbits around the Sun about 30 times the distance from Earth, has intrigued astronomers since its discovery in 1846. The sunlight falling there is already very dim, at noon it is twilight, as at dawn on the earth. The planet is called an ice giant because, unlike the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, it is richer in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. Famous images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope showed the blue color of the surface of Neptune due to traces of methane in its atmosphere.

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The image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope with its Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is very different. Neptune no longer appears blue, due to the fact that methane absorbs radiation in this wavelength range (0.6-5 microns) to a greater extent. Most of the clouds in the upper atmosphere are clearly visible. They appear as brighter streaks, which is why infrared rays are reflected from them and not absorbed. These clouds have already been imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope or the WM Keck Observatory on Earth. The gentle gentle line surrounding the planet’s equator is likely a trace of atmospheric circulation driving winds and storms there. At the equator, the atmosphere is slightly warmer and this gives a brighter infrared image.

Web image shows 7 of Neptune’s 14 known moons. The image of Triton dominates, which, due to the presence of solid nitrogen covering it, reflects up to 70 percent. fall of solar radiation on it. The fact that Triton is much brighter than the planet itself underscores the importance of methane absorbing infrared radiation in its atmosphere for the image captured by the NIRCam camera.

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