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Uranus' rings look festive in an epic image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope

Uranus' rings look festive in an epic image captured by the James Webb Space Telescope

A new image of Uranus taken by the James Webb Space Telescope shows the planet's rings and moons.
Joanna Campos Joanna Campos Portugal meteorite 4 minutes

This is it The second image is of UranusIt was captured by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) this year. The first, released in April, was a two-color composite of images taken at infrared wavelengths of 1.4 and 3.0 micrometers. The new image adds additional wavelengths, 2.1 and 4.6 micrometers, to one A more complete view of the seventh planet in front of the sun To enable.

However, the new JWST image of Uranus doesn't just show the planet. Uranus' rings glow in infrared lightThe optics of the James Webb Space Telescope have resolved the mysterious and elusive inner Zeta ring. As many 27 moons Uranus can be seen. The crop shows some of Uranus's smaller, fainter moons, including some embedded in the rings, while the larger view shows Five large moons of the planet Performances: Ariel, Miranda, Oberon, Titania and Umbriel.

Highlights of Uranus's north polar cap

The extra level of detail these new images bring North polar cap of Uranus In the spotlight. Unlike the polar caps of Earth and Mars, which are made of solid ice, Uranus is a gaseous world and its polar caps are Hazy halos of aerosol float high in its atmosphere.

The new JWST image shows Uranus's north polar cap almost directly ahead Light spot in the middle and dark collarBoth have already been seen in previous observations in the infrared and radio range.But it's never that clear. The bright spot, shown in white in the new JWST image, is hotter than its surroundingsIt is the center of a huge cyclonic vortex.

YouTube video ID=6sXli-G8dYM

Bright storms can also be seen around the ice sheet, due at least in part to seasonal fluctuations. For unknown reasons, Uranus orbits sideways around the Sun at an inclination of 98 degrees to the plane of the ecliptic.

Instead of the poles being “above” the planet, we see them face to face, which means… Unique weather conditions used by JWST astronomers We definitely want to observe North Uranus in the run-up to the summer solstice in 2028.

One of the most interesting things about this new image of Uranus is that we can see the north polar cap ahead of us.

During the coup The weather is most active in the planet's polar cap. The tilt of Uranus means that for about a quarter of a Uranian year, which lasts 84 Earth years, one pole is in continuous daylight and the other in continuous night. Right now the North Pole faces us, but in 2070 it will be Uranus's south pole to take advantage of summer events at this great distance from the Sun (2.96 billion km).

Not only do these observations provide the best data yet for planetary scientists trying to understand how Uranus' atmosphere works, but they are also crucial to improving scientific questions. Which will spark a future mission to Uranus.

Source note:
Akins A, Hofstadter M, Butler B, et al. Evidence for a polar cyclone on Uranus from VLA observations. Geophysical Research Letters (2023).
Cooper K. Uranus' rings look positively festive in this epic holiday photo from the James Webb Space Telescope. (2023).