James Webb captures Neptune’s rings… 33 years after Voyager 2 : Donga Science

The James Webb Space Telescope has managed to capture the rings of Neptune clearly for the first time in over 30 years. Provided by NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has clearly captured the rings of Neptune. It has been 33 years since Voyager 2 flew by Neptune in 1989 to photograph the first rings of Neptune.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a photo of Neptune’s rings captured by JWST on the 21st (local time).

Heidi Hamel, vice president of the American Association of Astronomy and Research Colleges, who is conducting research as an interdisciplinary scientist on the JWST project, said, “It’s been over 30 years since I last saw a faint, dusty band.

JWST imaged objects in the near-infrared range (0.6-5 µm) with a near-infrared camera (NIRCam). Infrared rays with longer wavelengths allow us to observe the universe more deeply and more clearly.

This image is expected to provide clues to the exact composition of Neptune’s atmosphere. Neptune, which is 30 times further from the Sun than Earth (about 4.5 billion km), has an atmosphere made up of hydrogen, helium and methane. Methane absorbs the red light of the sun and reflects the blue light, making Neptune a blue planet to our eyes. However, NIRCam does not show blue, so it looks milky white.

In the newly released image of Neptune, Neptune’s moon Triton was also captured. Triton’s moon is covered in nitrogen and is known to reflect 70% of sunlight. That’s why Triton appears much brighter than Neptune in the images released by NASA.

Triton uniquely rotates in the opposite direction to Neptune. Based on this, astronomers speculate that Triton was originally one of the celestial bodies located in the Kuiperbent, but may have become a satellite by the gravitational pull of Neptune. The Kuiper Belt refers to small celestial bodies and ice grains orbiting the solar system that do not grow into planets outside of Neptune. Additionally, the James Webb Space Telescope has observed 7 of Neptune’s 14 moons.

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