Never for 30 years Neptune had been photographed like this

Never for 30 years Neptune had been photographed like this

– /AFP In this still picture from a NASA TV broadcast, the James Webb Space Telescope separates from Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket after launching from Europe’s Spaceport, the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, on December 25, 2021. – Some three decades and billions of dollars in the making, the world’s most powerful space telescope is headed to its outpost 1.5 million kms (930,000 miles) from Earth, after several delays caused by technical hitches. (Photo by various sources / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / NASA TV” – NO MARKETING – NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

– /AFP


SPACE – Like a pretty marble at the edge of our solar system. The space telescope James Webb delivered never-before-seen footage of the planet Neptune and its rings, which provide valuable information on its atmosphere, NASA announced on Wednesday September 21.

astronomers hadn’t had such a clear view of the most distant planet in the solar system since the brief and unique passage of a probe, Voyager 2, in the vicinity of this 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 eliminates all glare from the sun’s reflection off Neptune’s surface and light pollution from its surroundings, so “to begin to guess the atmospheric composition” of the planet, told AFP this astronomer who worked for more than 20 years on the James Webb project.

Neptune had a bluish appearance in images taken in the visible waveband. the Hubble telescopedue to the presence of methane in its atmosphere.

With James Webb’s NIRCam instrument, which works in the near infrared, the planet takes on a colorized hue in a grayish white. The picture also shows “strange light” at one of Neptune’s poles, said Nashas in a press release.

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.

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

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

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

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