NASA shares crystal clear image of Neptune’s rings

By AG STAFF 29 September 2022
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LOOK: The James Webb telescope has delivered incredible new images of Neptune.

This week NASA released photos that show the planet’s rings, and for the first time in 30 years, we Earth-bound beings can see the details of the rings and dust bands that circle the icy giant.

The last time viewers saw pictures of Neptune was in 1989 when the Voyager 2 probe rocketed past the planet.

“It has been three decades since we last saw these faint, dusty rings, and this is the first time we’ve seen them in the infrared,” says Heidi Hammel, a planetary scientist on the Webb Space Telescope team.

Related: Star struck: NASA’s James Webb telescope takes its best image yet of galaxy far, far away

Using these images, scientists will study the structures of the rings, hoping to discover new information about the formation of Neptune’s atmosphere.

As well as Neptune, the telescope captured images of the planet’s 14 moons. The most prominent, Triton, looks like a star.

Seventeen times larger than Earth and slightly bigger than Uranus, Neptune – the outermost planet in our Solar System – is nearly 4.5 billion kilometres from the Sun and takes almost 165 years to make one revolution around it.

Atmospherically, Neptune contains high amounts of hydrogen and helium. The planet itself is rich in ice, water, ammonia and methane.

Related: First images from James Webb Space Telescope reveal distant galaxies in mind-blowing detail