Webb Space Telescope captures Neptune’s rings the clearest ever | Satellite | Epoch Times

[Epoch Times, Medi 21, 2022](Epoch Times reporter Chen Juncun reported) Recently, NASA released the first image of Neptune captured by its James Webb Space Telescope. Neptune’s rings in this image are the sharpest seen in decades.

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past Neptune in 1989 and made observations, the NASA website reported on September 21. For more than three decades, Neptune’s rings have not been fully detected. In the pictures taken by the Webb Space Telescope this time, Neptune’s narrow ring is the most striking bright spot.

“It has been 30 years since we last saw these faint, dusty rings,” said Heidi Hammel, a scientist with the Webb Space Telescope and an expert on the Neptune system. Go see them in infrared light.”

Scientists have been studying Neptune since 1846. It is a planet in the outer solar system, very far from the sun. Seen from Neptune, the sun is small and indistinct, like the faint sheen seen on Earth.

Neptune is classified as an ice giant because of the chemical composition of its interior. Compared to the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, Neptune contains more elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. Neptune appears blue in visible light images from the Hubble Space Telescope, caused by small amounts of gaseous methane.

Neptune is blue as seen in visible light by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA)

Neptune has a total of 14 known moons. Seven of them were captured by the Webb Space Telescope. The very bright point of light at the top of the image is not a star, but Neptune’s largest moon, Triton.

Seven moons of Neptune were captured by the Webb Space Telescope. (NASA)

Triton orbits Neptune in a rare retrograde orbit, which is in the opposite direction to the planet’s rotation. Astronomers therefore speculate that Triton was originally a celestial body in the Kuiper belt (the Kuiper belt, which is located outside the orbit of Neptune, similar to the asteroid belt), but was gravitationally captured by Neptune.

The orbital period of Neptune is 164 years. This means scientists can’t see its north pole (at the top of the image), but the Webb Space Telescope image shows an attractive glow in the area. The vortex of its southern pole is clearly visible in the photo, and scientists have previously known that there is a vortex here.

Responsible editor: Sun Yun#

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