More

    Stunning JWST image of Uranus shows 13 rings and nine moons


    Uranus, showing its rings and nine of the planet's 27 moons

    Uranus, showing all of its rings and nine of the planet’s 27 moons

    NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

    This amazing shot of Uranus, taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), has given us our most complete view yet of the planet, with its rings and turbulent atmosphere revealed in glorious detail.

    In April, JWST used its infrared sensors to image Uranus and give us a clearer view of the ice giant’s rings of rock and dust, which had only previously been directly imaged twice, by the Voyager 2 spacecraft and Earth-based Keck Observatory. In that April image, 11 of Uranus’s 13 known rings could be seen, but the final two were too faint to show up.

    JWST has now followed up those observations using a wider field of view and more wavelengths of infrared light, revealing the rings in even more detail and showing us the elusive final two rings.

    The view above also shows nine of Uranus’s 27 moons, which are all tilted at the same 98-degree angle away from the sun as the planet itself. Another new image from JWST, below, shows five more moons (Oberon, Umbriel, Ariel, Miranda and Titania) glowing like blue stars, bringing the total displayed to 14.

    This JWST picture of Uranus shows five more moons, shining like blue stars around the planet: Oberon, Umbriel, Ariel, Miranda and Titania

    This JWST picture of Uranus shows five more moons, shining like blue stars around the planet. They are (clockwise from top): Oberon, Umbriel, Ariel, Miranda and Titania

    STScI Copyright: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

    The tilt of the planet gives different sides of Uranus prolonged periods of sunlight and darkness – each of its seasons lasts 21 Earth years – resulting in its polar cap and atmospheric storms, which can both be seen more clearly in the top picture. The storms are just below the southern edge of the broad, white polar cap, seen as white wisps against the blue backdrop.

    Although Uranus takes 84 years to orbit the sun, the planet takes only 17 hours to complete a rotation, so its atmosphere and moons can move more quickly than a standard telescope exposure. Astronomers used a combination of long and short exposure times with JWST to create the above images, so that its changing features can be smoothed over.

    Topics:



    Source link

    Recent Articles

    Related Stories