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The James Webb Telescope provides the first image of Uranus

The James Webb Telescope has provided the first breathtaking image of Uranus, with rings brighter than ever.

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) does not stop talking about it. NASA recently shared a dossier The first image of the planet Uranus, an image that reveals previously unseen bright rings around the icy giant of 27 moons. Stunningly beautiful. A total of 11 of Uranus’ 13 rings have been captured, some of which are so bright they appear to merge into one.

The James Webb Telescope provides the first image of Uranus

As NASA explains on its site, JWST “imaged the two most faintly dusty rings on the planet, the rings discovered with the Voyager 2 flyby in 1986.” In fact, the main rings are made up of blocks of ice – up to several meters in diameter -, while the others are made up of chunks of ice obscured by rocks.

Compared to the rings of other planets with similar properties, such as Saturn, the rings of Uranus are thin, narrow, and dark. But this blue, between pastel and blue, is absolutely beautiful. According to the space agency, this is the result of a thick layer of haze in its atmosphere, dubbed “Aerosol-2” by researchers at the University of Oxford. This lightens the planet’s appearance, like tracing paper on a photo, by making the bright colors more “milky”. On the other hand, when Voyager 2 spotted Uranus, its camera showed us “a blue-green ball, almost without properties in visible wavelengths,” the European Space Agency announced in a press release. Also according to the latter, “Thanks to the infrared wavelengths and Webb’s increased sensitivity, we see more detail, which shows how dynamic the atmosphere of Uranus is.”

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A dazzling shot, with rings brighter than ever

Besides its rings, JWST has also captured several of the 27 moons of Uranus. In the photo, the six brightest are clearly recognizable. Which is already impressive in its own right. But the most impressive thing is that “this image of Uranus was the result of a short 12-minute exposure using only two filters. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what James Webb can do to observe this mysterious planet,” says NASA.

And we should soon learn more about the seventh planet in our solar system. In 2022, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have identified Uranus science as a priority in their 2023-2033 Decennial Study on Planetary Sciences and Astrobiology. More studies on Uranus are underway, and more are planned during The first year of operation of the scientific telescope. patience ! And again, thank you JWST!