Neptune's rings in the eye of the James Webb Telescope

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The Rings of Neptune in the Eye of the James Webb Telescope

With the telescope's NIRCam instrument, which works in the near infrared, the planet takes on a colorful shade of greyish-white.

The James Webb Space Telescope has delivered never-before-seen images of the planet Neptune and its rings, which provide valuable insights into its atmosphere, NASA announced.

Astronomers have not had such a clear view of the most distant planet in the solar system since the brief and single passage of a probe, Voyager 2, in the vicinity of this planet. icy giant in 1989.

The telescope's infrared vision provides a new way to analyze its atmosphere, said Mark McCaughrean, science and exploration adviser at the European Space Agency (ESA).

The telescope removes all glare from the sun's reflection off Neptune's surface and light pollution from its surroundings, so it can begin to guess the planet's atmospheric composition, this man told AFP. astronomer who worked more than 20 years on the James Webb Telescope project.

Neptune had a bluish appearance in images taken in the visible waveband by the telescope Hubble, because of the presence of methane in its atmosphere.

With the NIRCam instrument of the James Webb telescope, which works in the near infrared, the planet takes on a colorized hue in a greyish white.

The image also shows strange light at one of Neptune's poles, NASA said in a statement.

The telescope also captured images of seven of the planet's fourteen known moons. And in particular of Triton, which resembles by its brilliance a small star. Larger than the dwarf planet Pluto, it also appears brighter than Neptune because of the reflection of sunlight off its icy surface.

The planet Neptune and seven of its fourteen moons.

Astronomers looking for planets outside our solar system have found that those like Neptune or from Uranus are the most common.

The ability to observe these up close will make it easier to observe the others (icy giants) orbiting around ;other stars than our Sun, explained Mr. McCaughrean.

In service since last July, James Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever deployed. It will enable a kind of astronomy that was unthinkable even five years ago, said McCaughrean.

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