Saturn may be the most famous planet in our solar system for its spectacular rings, but the ice giant Uranus also has a system of 13 inner rings. Eleven of them — nine main rings and two faint dusty rings — are clearly visible. Latest fascinating film From NASA’s Webb Space Telescope. Future images should reveal the remaining two faint outer rings discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2007.
“Uranus has never looked better. Truly,” NASA tweeted. “Only Voyager 2 and Keck (with adaptive optics) have imaged the planet’s faint rings before, and never as clearly as Webb’s first look at this ice giant, which also highlights bright atmospheric features.”
As we previously reported, the Webb Telescope was launched in December 2021, and after months of a suspenseful sunshield and mirror deployment, began snapping stunning images. The first was a deep-field image of the universe released last July. This was followed by images of exoplanet atmospheres, the Southern Ring Nebula, a collection of interacting galaxies known as the Stephens Quintet, and the Carina Nebula, a star-forming region about 7,600-light-years away. The images are said to have brought astronomers to tears.
Last August, we got beautiful images of Jupiter, including the auroras at both poles and its thin rings, as well as the gas giant’s two small moons, a result of Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field. A month later a mosaic image shows a panorama of star formation across 340 light-years in the Tarantula Nebula—named for its long, dusty filaments. We also got spectacular images of Neptune and its rings not seen directly since the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989.
In October, the Webb Telescope gifted us with a stunning new image Pillars of creation-The most famous picture taken by the pioneer of the web Hubble Space TelescopeIn 1995. The very next month, the telescope gave astronomers new clues about the formation of a new star. Shocking picture An hourglass-shaped dark cloud surrounding a protostar known as L1527.
Uranus is the only planet in our solar system that is slightly tilted on its side as it orbits. That unique tilt leads to very extreme seasons: 42 years of sunlight and 42 years of darkness in its 84-year orbit around the Sun. By NASA. The image captures a subtle glow at the center of the planet’s sun-facing north polar cap, as well as bright clouds that are the result of storm activity. Data collected by the Webb telescope may help solve the mystery of why this polar cap appears in direct summer sunlight but disappears in the fall.
These enhanced polar features have not been seen before by other powerful telescopes such as Hubble or the Keck Observatory. But the web’s primary imager, The Near infrared camera (NIRCam), well suited for capturing images of very faint objects. NIRCam’s coronagraphs block any light from nearby bright objects, much like how protecting one’s eyes from bright sunlight helps us focus on the scene in front of us. NIRCam is therefore more sensitive and capable of “seeing” longer wavelengths.
Catalog image from NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI