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James Webb Telescope Makes Neptune Look Like You’ve Never Seen It – National

New images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) show Neptune “in a whole new light,” according to NASA.

Before capturing Neptune on camera, JWST was inspiring the public with pictures of deep space nebulae and stars in the galaxy. Now, we’ve turned that line of sight back to the inner part of our solar system, capturing shots that may challenge our perception of distant ice giants.

This image provided by NASA on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 shows the Neptune system captured by Webb’s near-infrared camera.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI via AP

These images show Neptune with a shiny surface and two bright rings, dotted with numerous moons. NASA says that when Voyager 2 first observed Neptune during its flyby in 1989, it captured the “clearest view” of Neptune in over 30 years.

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The telescope is giving scientists an unprecedented glimpse into Neptune’s atmosphere. Its bright streaks and patches are actually high-altitude clouds of methane gas reflecting distant sunlight. In fact, the Sun is so far away that NASA says that noon on Neptune resembles twilight on Earth.

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Mark McAourian, the European Space Agency’s senior adviser to science and exploration, told AFP that using the James Webb telescope “we can start to figure out the composition of the atmosphere” of the planet. ”

When the Hubble Telescope and Voyager both photographed Neptune, Neptune’s surface appeared blue because all the methane gas in its atmosphere absorbed red light. However, in the near-infrared range captured by Webb, Neptune has a grayish-white hue.

“The ring reflects more infrared light, so it’s much easier to see,” McCaughrean said.

This composite image provided by NASA on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 shows three images of Neptune side by side. From left, pictures of Neptune taken by Voyager 2 in 1989, Hubble in 2021, and his Webb in 2022. In visible light, Neptune appears blue because there is a small amount of methane gas in its atmosphere. Webb’s near-infrared camera instead observed Neptune at near-infrared wavelengths. At this wavelength, Neptune resembles a pearl with thin concentric elliptical rings.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI via AP

Webb’s image shows that Neptune is adjacent to 7 of its 14 known moons. What appears to be a bright, spiky star hovering above the planet is actually Triton, a moon of Neptune that NASA calls “large and unusual.”

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Triton is covered in icy condensed nitrogen, giving it a luster that reflects about 70% of the sunlight that hits it, far outstripping the relatively dim Neptune. A NASA press release notes that Triton is orbiting Neptune retrograde (backwards), and astronomers believe Triton was originally an object from the Kuiper belt that was “gravitated” by Neptune. I’m making a hypothesis.

The Neptune system with 7 of its 14 known moons labeled as captured by Webb’s near-infrared camera.

NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI via AP

NASA says it plans to study Neptune and Triton again with the Webb telescope.

The image also shows an “interesting brightness” at Neptune’s north pole. This is the part of the planet invisible to astronomers due to her 164-year orbit of Neptune. Neptune’s south pole faces the Web, where the image shows a long-known vortex, but reveals a “high-altitude cloud band surrounding it.”

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The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, JWST has not only provided stunning images, but has also played an important role in providing scientific knowledge about the universe and its origins.

JWST has a much larger primary mirror than Hubble (2.7 times larger in diameter and about 6 times larger in area), so it gathers more light than Hubble and is much more sensitive.

There was no second chance when JWST launched on Christmas Day 2021. It was so far away in the solar system that it was impossible for a human crew to visit for repairs.

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Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s director of science missions, said that with the new telescopes, the universe is “releasing the secrets that have been there for decades, centuries and millennia.”

“It’s not an image. It’s a new world you’re going to see,” he said at a media briefing in July.

— Using files from Michelle Butterfield of Global News

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



James Webb Telescope Makes Neptune Look Like You’ve Never Seen It – National

Source link James Webb Telescope Makes Neptune Look Like You’ve Never Seen It – National

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