James Webb space telescope captures remarkable views of Jupiter

One of the images shows detailed views of the planet's rings, aurorae and two tiny moons

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Nasa has released two stunning images of Jupiter captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.

One of the photos shows the planet’s faint rings, two tiny moons called Amalthea and Adrastea, and striking views of its aurorae, with galaxies in the background.

The other displays its Great Red Spot, a storm so big it could swallow Earth.

The latest observations will give scientists a greater understanding of the largest planet in the solar system.

“We hadn’t really expected it to be this good,” said planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, who is also a professor emerita of the University of California, Berkeley.

“It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image."

Dr de Pater led the observations of Jupiter with Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, as part of an international collaboration for Webb’s Early Release Science programme.

Scientists are interested in studying Jupiter because it could help them to learn more about the solar system.

The planet, which is believed to have 79 moons, has a unique composition and inner structure that researchers want to study more.

Its atmosphere is made up of mostly hydrogen gas and helium gas, just like the Sun.

The gas giant is covered in thick red, brown, yellow and white clouds, which make it look like the planet has stripes.

James Webb, the world’s most powerful space telescope, launched on Christmas Day and has since been sending back unique views of the universe.

These latest images of Jupiter were taken by the telescope’s near-infrared camera, which has three specialised filters that make details of the planet visible.

Infrared instruments help capture radiant energy that is invisible to the human eye but can be detected as heat.

The wide-field view of Jupiter, which shows its moons and aurora, also captures its rings that are a million times fainter than the planet.

“This one image sums up the science of our Jupiter system programme, which studies the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter itself, its rings and its satellite system,” Dr Fouchet said.

The first image from the telescope was revealed by US President Joe Biden on July 11. It showed the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it was 4.6 billion years ago.

On July 20, it detected the oldest known galaxy in the universe, called Glass-z13, which was formed about 300 million years after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.

This breaks the record set by its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which spotted GN-z11, a galaxy that was formed 400 million years after the birth of the universe.

Updated: August 23, 2022, 7:43 AM
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