The Webb Telescope captures a stunning image of the planet Uranus

(CNN) The James Webb Space Telescope has captured a stunning new image of ice giant Uranus, showing almost all of its faint dusty rings.

NASA said the image represents the telescope’s great sensitivity, as the faint rings were only captured by the Voyager 2 spacecraft and the WM Keck Observatory in Maunakea, Hawaii.

Uranus has 13 known rings, 11 of which are visible In Webb’s new image. Nine rings are categorized as major rings, while the other two are difficult to capture due to their dusty makeup and weren’t discovered until the Voyager 2 mission flyby in 1986. Two other faint outer rings not shown in this last image were discovered in 2007 images I took NASA’s Hubble Space TelescopeScientists hope that Webb will catch them in the future.

“A planet’s ring system tells us a lot about its origins and formation,” said Dr. Naomi Roe-Gurney, a postdoctoral research scientist and solar system ambassador for the Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. By email.

“Uranus is such a strange world with its lateral tilt and lack of internal heat that any clues we can get about its history are very valuable.”

Scientists expect that future Webb images will be able to capture all 13 rings. Rowe-Gurney also expects the telescope to reveal more about the composition of Uranus’ atmosphere, helping scientists better understand this unusual gas giant.



Hubble’s image of Uranus (left) in November captured the planet’s bright polar cap, while Webb’s latest image showed more detail, with a subtle enhanced brightness in the center of the cap.

The Space Observatory’s Strong Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, can detect infrared light in another way not visible to astronomers.

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“JWST gives us the ability to look at both Uranus and Neptune in a whole new way because we’ve never had a telescope of this size that looks in the infrared,” said Rowe-Gurney. “Infrared can show us new depths and features that are difficult to see from Earth with the atmosphere in the way and invisible to visible-light looking telescopes like Hubble.”

More about Uranus

Uranus is located 1.8 billion miles (nearly 3 billion km) from our sun, and it takes 84 years to complete a full orbit. The planet is unique in that it is tilted on its side, which causes its rings to display vertically, unlike Saturn’s horizontal ring system.

The north pole of Uranus is surrounded by a bright haze that NASA previously reported to appear When the pole is in direct sunlight during the summer. The atmospheric haze appears to be getting brighter every year, according to the space agency. With the exact mechanism behind the unknown haze, scientists are studying the polar cap using telescope images like this new web image.

In the Original Voyager 2 images Capturing Uranus, the planet appeared in the form of a featureless blue ball. In this new web image, similar to other recent images by the Hubble Space Telescope, storm clouds can be seen at the edge of the polar cap. The tilt of Uranus causes extreme seasons and this stormy weather and scientists You monitor and document changes over time by comparing telescope images.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope also captured Uranus’ bright white polar cap in November, illuminating the haze’s increased brightness when observing it compared to images from previous years. Webb’s new image depicts the polar cap in greater detail than seen in the Hubble image, with a slight brightness in the center of the cap and f Clearer storm clouds can be seen around the edges.

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Uranus is identified as Priority for study in 2022 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. “Additional studies of Uranus are underway now, and more are planned in Webb’s first year of operations,” the NASA statement said. after the announcement.

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