Did you think that only Saturn has rings in our Milky Way? Check out this new photograph from the James Webb.
James Webb has taken the clearest image of Neptune ‘s rings since 1989.
The space telescope has managed to capture the ice giant in a unique way, with an image that has not been repeated since Voyager 2 flew over it more than 3 decades ago.
This latest image from the NASA/ESA/CSA James #Webb Space Telescope (NIRCam) shows #Neptune, taken on 12 July 2022, bringing the planet’s rings into full focus for the first time in more than three decades 👉 https://t.co/oqmAvBBT72 pic.twitter.com/Z7xwCwRu2M
— ESA (@esa) September 21, 2022
Does Neptune have rings?
Neptune is 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth, a fact that does not allow light and heat rays to reach us as on our planet.
Compared to Jupiter and Saturn, which are gas giants, the ice giant Neptune is much richer in elements that are heavier than hydrogen and helium.
And outside of its atmosphere, it is made up of rings of dust that surround it.
“It’s 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 Webb interdisciplinary scientist. In general, these rings are difficult to observe from afar because they are close to the planet and obscured by the brightness of Neptune .
Neptune appears blue in Hubble images captured at visible wavelengths, which is due to the presence of methane gas. With the James Webb , capturing infrared images, the planet appears white as methane in its atmosphere absorbs this light.
And the Neptunian moons
In addition to the planet itself, James Webb also captured seven of its 14 known moons.
The very bright point of light with diffraction spikes at the top left of the image is Neptune ‘s largest moon, Triton . Triton has a surface covered in frozen condensed nitrogen and reflects about 70% of the sunlight that hits it.