- James Webb Space Telescope captures strikingly crisp images of Neptune and its rings
- The latest James Webb Space Telescope image released by NASA on September 21 shows Neptune. It is the clearest view of the planet’s rings in over 30 years.
- New images released Wednesday from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope are revealing Neptune, and the planet’s hard-to-detect rings, in a fresh light.
- In addition to several crisp, narrow rings, the Webb images show Neptune’s fainter dust bands. Some of the rings haven’t been observed since NASA’s Voyager 2 got the first photographic proof of the existence of Neptune’s rings during its flyby in 1989.
New Image : (NIRCam)
- In the new images, Neptune looks white, as opposed to the typical blue appearance it has in views captured at visible wavelengths of light. This is because gaseous methane, part of the planet’s chemical makeup, doesn’t appear blue to Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera.
- Also visible in the images are methane-ice clouds — bright streaks and spots that reflect sunlight before it is absorbed by methane gas.
- It’s also possible to spot a bright, thin line circling the planet’s equator, which could be “a visual signature of global atmospheric circulation that powers Neptune’s winds and storms,” according to the release.
Webb is a more than 10-year mission run by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency