NASA releases ‘remarkable’ images of Neptune’s rings seen for first time in infrared
NASA has released new images of Neptune’s planetary rings in what has been heralded as some of the clearest shots of the planet in decades.
The images were taken from the James Webb Space Telescope and shows the rings around the planet for the first time since the Voyager 2 mission flew past the ice giant in 1989.
Not only is the planet seen in dazzlingly clear images but the dust rings surrounding the ice giant are also faintly visible.
“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, a Neptune system expert and interdisciplinary scientist for the Webb project.
In 1989, the planet was shown to be a blue singular object without its rings visible.
In the latest pictures from the Webb project, the planet is seen as greyish white with clouds dotted across the surface.
The image also shows seven of Neptune’s 14 moons, including Triton which shines brightly as a star as it is made up of frozen, condensed nitrogen, which reflects a large amount of sunlight.
The Webb telescope is the most powerful of its kind ever built giving astronomers the ability to analyse data never seen before since its launch last year.
Amazing images from the James Webb Space Telescope
Mark McCaughrean, a senior adviser for science and exploration at the European Space Agency added: “The kind of astronomy we’re seeing now was unimaginable five years ago.
“Of course, we knew that it would do this, we built it to do this, it is exactly the machine we designed.
“But to suddenly start seeing things in these longer wavelengths, which were impossible before it’s just absolutely remarkable.”
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