Neptune appears with a new image thanks to the space telescope james webbwho has caught the clearest view of his rings in more than 30 years and seven of its many moons.
Infrared vision from the new telescope reveals this icy giant under a whole new lightassures in a note the European Space Agency (ESA), which participates in James Webb together with the American NASA and the Canadian CSA.
The images give a clear view of its rings, some of which had not been seen until now and others that had not been captured with that level of detail since the space probe Voyager 2 came closest to the planet in 1989, and clearly show the fainter dust lanes surrounding the planet.
Neptune, discovered in 1846, is 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth and orbits in one of the darkest parts of the solar system. A noon there is similar to a dim twilight on Earth, reminds the ESA.
Webb also caught seven of Neptune’s fourteen known moons and in the image you can see a very bright point of light with the characteristic diffraction peaks that are seen in many of the telescope images, but not a starbut the planet’s most unusual moon, Triton.
Covered in an icy sheen of condensed nitrogen, Triton reflects an average of 70% of the sunlight that reaches it, with which it far exceeds Neptune, because the planet’s atmosphere is darkened by methane absorption at Webb wavelengths Triton has a strange retrograde orbit around Neptune, which has led astronomers to speculate that this moon was actually an object Kuiper belt which was gravitationally captured by the planet.
Additional studies of Triton and Neptune, remember the ESA note. Neptune is characterized by being an ice giant due to the chemical composition of its interior, which is evident in the characteristic blue appearance of the images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope -predecessor of the James Webb- in visible wavelengths, caused by small amounts of gaseous methane.
In Webb’s images, thanks to his near-infrared camera Neptune does not appear blue. In addition, a thin line of brightness is observed surrounding the planet’s equator, which could be a visual signature of the global atmospheric circulation that drives the planet’s winds and storms.
Neptune’s 164-year orbit means its north pole is just out of sight of astronomers, but the Webb images hint “an intriguing glow in that area.”
A previously known vortex at the south pole is evident in Webb’s view, but for the first time it has revealed a continuous band of clouds that surrounds it.