JWST Joins Elite With Rings Of Uranus Image

13th Apr 2023
JWST Joins Elite With Rings Of Uranus Image

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured a rare glimpse of the incredible ice rings surrounding Uranus. Several factors contribute to making a rings of Uranus image a noteworthy achievement.

The telescope’s sensitive cameras and advanced technology made the observation on 6th February. The giant ice ring system is notoriously difficult to observe due to its thin nature.

JWST took image of Uranus rings
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI. Image processing: J. DePasquale (STScI)

It’s a momentous observation, which has rarely been made before

Only a handful of platforms have captured an image of the rings Of Uranus. Firstly, it was done by the Voyager 2 spacecraft, which flew by Uranus in 1986, and then more recently by Keck Observatory’s advanced adaptive optics.

However, the James Webb Space Telescope provided a more detailed and comprehensive view of the rings, helping scientists to better understand their structure and composition.

Data from two filters created the rings of Uranus image 

The James Webb Telescope combined two filters to create this incredible image. It can be viewed as blue colouration and orange highlights, respectively. 

The representative-colour image shows the dense icy fluid of water, ammonia, and water, above a small rocky core, which compromises Uranus and appears like a light blue snowball.

The telescope used its near-infrared camera, the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), and its spectrograph, the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), to capture images of the planet and its rings. 

NIRCam has a resolution of 0.1 arcseconds. This is more than 100 times better than ground-based telescopes. Furthermore, NIRSpec can analyse the composition of the rings by measuring their spectral signatures.

What will really amaze astronomers is that the NIRCam instrument was sensitive enough to capture the innermost two of Uranus’ dusty rings. 

What is the James Webb Space Telescope?

The James Webb Space Telescope is a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. It is the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built. The JWST has the ability to observe some of the earliest galaxies in the universe and study the atmospheres of exoplanets.

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