December 5, 2022

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has obtained the clearest glimpse of Neptune’s rings in more than 30 years, according to the US space agency. The precise glimpse of the planet’s rings, some of which have not been observed since NASA’s Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to survey Neptune during its flyby in 1989, is the most startling feature of Webb’s new image. The Webb image vividly reveals Neptune’s fainter dust bands, in addition to several brilliant, narrow rings.

“We haven’t seen these thin, dusty rings in three decades, and this is the first time we’ve observed them in infrared,” Heidi Hammel, a Neptune system expert and transdisciplinary scientist for Webb, said in a release. According to NASA, the exceptionally consistent and exact image quality of Webb allows for the detection of these very weak rings so close to Neptune. Webb also photographed seven of Neptune’s fourteen known moons. This Webb painting of Neptune is dominated by an extremely brilliant point of light with the telltale diffraction spikes observed in many of Webb’s photos, but it is not a star. This is Triton, Neptune’s big and peculiar moon.

Triton, which is covered in a frozen sheen of condensed nitrogen, reflects an average of 70% of the sunlight that strikes it.

(source : IANS)

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