The JWST or James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first picture of Neptune. This amazing picture gives us our best look at the rings of this ice giant in more than 30 years.
The new picture gives a clear view of Neptune’s bright, narrow rings, some of which haven’t been seen at all, let alone this clearly, since the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989. In addition to the moving rings, the planet’s fainter dust bands can also be seen because Webb’s images are so stable and clear.
The photo taken by James Webb Space Telescope also shows some of Neptune’s atmosphere and surroundings that stand out. These things are:
- High-altitude methane-ice clouds can be seen as bright spots in the southern hemisphere.
- A previously known vortex at the south pole was surrounded by a continuous band of high-latitude clouds for the first time.
- The thin, bright line that goes around Neptune’s equator could be a sign of how its winds and storms are powered by the global circulation of air.
- Seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons, including the strangest and brightest one, Triton, can be seen from Earth.
The planet’s orbit takes 164 years, so the northern pole, which is at the top of the picture, is just out of sight.
Neptune lives in one of the darkest parts of our solar system. It is 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth. At such a huge distance, where the Sun is so dim that high noon on Neptune looks like dim twilight on Earth, it is truly amazing that Webb was able to take such clear pictures of the planet. Don’t you think so?
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