The James Webb Space Telescope continues to wow astronomers and the general public alike with its infrared view deep space targets. Closer to dwelling, the $10 billion observatory is also offering gorgeous views of the solar system’s ice giants, first with Neptune final yr and now with Uranus.
Unique within the solar system, Uranus rotates on its facet at an almost 90-degree angle to its orbital airplane, producing excessive seasons with the poles experiencing years of daylight after which darkness. The newest picture of the seventh planet supplies a remarkably clear view of Uranus’ rings, its sun-facing north polar cap and indicators of two giant storm techniques.
Visible within the above late springtime view is the north polar cap, an space of brightening on the fitting facet of the planet the place its tilted rotation axis faces the sun. The cap is just seen when the pole faces direct daylight in summer time; it disappears within the fall. At the left fringe of the cap, a brilliant storm is seen with one other on the planet’s left limb.
Eleven of Uranus’ 13 identified rings are seen. Two faint, dusty outer rings had been noticed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2007 throughout a hoop airplane crossing and researchers are hopeful Webb will detect them as properly in future observations.
Also seen in a wider area of view: six of the planet’s 27 identified moons.
“This was only a short (12-minute) exposure image of Uranus with just two filters,” based on a information launch accompanying the images. “It is just the tip of the iceberg of what Webb can do when observing this mysterious planet. Additional studies of Uranus are happening now, and more are planned in Webb’s first year of science operations.”