Webb telescope takes startling images of Neptune
September 22, 2022 - The James Webb Space Telescope has cast its infrared eye onto the remote world of Neptune, revealing rings and bright spots believed to be clouds of methane ice.
One of the most striking aspects of the James Webb Telescope’s latest images of the planet Neptune is the crisp view of the planet’s rings – some of which have never been seen before, let alone with such clarity – since the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989.
In the image, its northern pole is just out of view but hints at an intriguing brightness in that area. Faint dust bands can also be seen as well as seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons.
One moon in particular, Triton, is sparkling like a star due to its covering of frozen condensed nitrogen which reflects 70 percent of sunlight. It’s also unusual in that it has a retrograde orbit – an orbit in the direction opposite to Neptune’s rotation.
The ice giant planet has fascinated and perplexed researchers since its discovery in 1846 by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle. Neptune is the most distant planet from our Sun (30 times further from the Sun than Earth), orbiting in one of the darkest regions of the Solar System.