February 4, 2023

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Incredibly sharp image of Neptune's rings

Incredibly sharp image of Neptune’s rings

No one has seen him for more than 30 years.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest and most accurate space telescope ever built.

It was launched into space in 2021. Now it’s finally starting to send us amazing pictures.

This time it photographed the farthest planet in the solar system, which is Neptune.

The new images don’t just show the distant blue planet. It is also possible to see the faint rings that Neptune has around its abdomen.

They haven’t seen one since 1989, when the Voyager 2 space probe passed the planet and took pictures.

Neptune

  • Neptune is the farthest planet in the solar system. It is 30 times farther from the sun than the Earth. It takes 165 years for one orbit around the Sun. So, the year of Neptune is 165 Earth years!
  • You can fit about 57 terrestrial planets inside Neptune, but it is impossible to see them with the naked eye.
  • From Neptune, the sun is so small that it is black even in the middle of the day. The planet is slightly tilted in its orbit around the sun, just like the Earth. This means that Neptune has seasons, like here.
  • Neptune is a gas planet, like Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. But the surface is extremely cold: -130 degrees! That is why Neptune is called an ice giant.

clouds and moons

The bright spots on the planet’s surface are huge clouds of ice made of methane.

The methane in the atmosphere is exactly what gives Neptune its blue colour.

The researchers found it particularly exciting to have a huge patch of clouds over Neptune’s north pole. The North Pole itself is out of sight, on top of the planet.

The image also shows many of Neptune’s fourteen moons. Some of them move inside the rings, while others lie far away.

One might think that the bright spot at the top left is a star. But it’s the Moon Triton!

strange triton

The bright spot like crazy at the top left is Triton. It’s a real weirdo.

The surface is covered with frozen nitrogen, which reflects a lot of light. So much so that Triton glows much more than Neptune.

Triton also goes in the wrong direction in its orbit, that is, in the opposite direction to all other moons.

Researchers believe that it is actually a mass of ice and rock that comes from the Kuiper Belt, an extraplanetary region.

Maybe Triton was just passing through, but then fell into the attraction of Neptune?

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