Jupiter’s auroras appear in new images taken by the Webb Telescope

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Jupiter’s auroras appear in new images taken by the Webb Telescope

When we think of the space telescope James Webb, we especially think of images of distant galaxies and stars. The space observatory was indeed designed to be able to observe the most distant cosmic objects and produce the deepest images of the Universe. But the Webb telescope can also observe the planets of the Solar System, and the latest images of Jupiter prove it.

Recently, Webb’s team released startling images of Jupiter. Both images show the giant planet with auroras at its poles. In addition to this, we can see the planet rings which are usually very difficult to distinguish.

Jupiter captured by Webb
Credits NASA, ESA, Jupiter ERS Team; image processing by Ricardo Hueso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt

Two of the gas giant’s smaller moons are also visible. You can see Amalthea on the far left, and Adrastea which is on the left edge of the center ring.

In the infrared range

The two images of Jupiter and its aurora were taken on July 27 using the wide vision of the NIRCam instrument. The astronomers created mosaics using several images taken with filters corresponding to different colors.

Apart from the auroras that can be seen distinctly at the poles, there is also the Great Red Spot which appears clearly with a white color. This is also the case for cloud formations which appear white since they reflect a large amount of sunlight.

Understanding gas giants

Although these are images showing the special beauty of the planet Jupiter, the purpose of this observation is not only to capture what appears on the outside. According to astronomers from the European Space Agency (ESA)these observations also provide information about what is happening inside the planet. This will allow scientists to better understand the behavior of gas giants that are outside the Solar System.

Over the coming years, we can expect the Webb telescope to collect a lot of data on the Universe, but also on our solar system. These data will certainly answer some of the questions regarding the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.

SOURCE: Engadget

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