NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope imaged Jupiter’s rings and satellites with incandescent infrared light

Europa on the dark moon surrounded by yellow light and Jupiter in infrared in white and orange

Jupiter and its moon Europa (left) can be seen through the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam instrument.NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Horror and J. Stansbury (STScI)

NASA turned its most powerful infrared eyes on Jupiter with a new set of images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

When NASA released its first full-color image, the new observatory, which orbits the Sun about a million miles from Earth, proved this week that it could peek into the entire universe for more than 13 billion light-years. They show a myriad of galaxies, stars, and clouds of dust in the distant universe.

JWST can also image objects that are closer and closer to you. On Thursday, NASA released a series of new JWST images showing Jupiter in amazing detail. Alongside the gas giants, there are their satellites Europe, Thiva and Metis. Scientists believe that Europe has a saltwater sea deep in the thick ice crust, which may harbor alien life.

Even Jupiter’s thin ring can be seen in some new images. The ring is made up of dust particles thrown into space when a micrometeorite collides with a nearby satellite. No one knew they existed until the Voyager spacecraft passed Jupiter in 1979 and turned around to see a ring silhouetted against the Sun.

Images of Jupiter and its moon at various infrared wavelengths are displayed side by side.  One orange shows Jupiter's band in one bright yellow.

Jupiter and its satellites as seen through the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam short-wavelength filter (left) and long-wavelength filter (right).NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Horror and J. Stansbury (STScI)

Europa’s shadow appears just to the left of Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot. This is high enough to swallow the earth. In this photo, the storm is whitened by how scientists processed the infrared data beamed back by the telescope.

Stephanie Miram, a planetary scientist on NASA’s JWST team, said: Blog post I will publish the image. “It’s really exciting to think about the capabilities and opportunities we have to observe these kinds of objects in our solar system.”

Side-by-side images show Jupiter with two types of infrared rays, Europa on the big moon and a thin planetary ring.

Jupiter and its moons and rings. It is captured by JWST at short infrared wavelengths (left) and long infrared wavelengths (right).NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Horror and J. Stansbury (STScI)

JWST used a near-infrared camera (NIRCam) filter to capture a new image. Images that clearly show the band of Jupiter’s atmosphere were captured using filters for short wavelength light. Others, such as the image above, showing Jupiter as a sphere of bright white light, have passed a filter for long wavelengths.

To allow the telescope to find and track stars in the background of bright objects like Jupiter, NASA focused the telescope on distant stars as Jupiter passed by. As a result, Jupiter and Europa have been animated as follows:

The gif shows Jupiter and its moon Europa passing through the frame.

Europa of Jupiter and its moon can be seen in this animation created from three images taken through the short wavelength filter of the NIRCam device.NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Horror and J. Stansbury (STScI)

“Combine with” Deep field image These images of Jupiter, released recently, show that Webb has a complete grasp of what is observable. From the darkest and farthest observable galaxies to the planets in our backyard of the universe that can be seen with the naked eye from the actual backyard. “, Scientists at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, who supported the planning of these observations, said: statement..

There is a thin ring around Jupiter's bright white infrared ball, and next to it is the bright moon.

Jupiter and some of its moons are seen through NIRCam’s 3.23 micron filter.NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Horror and J. Stansbury (STScI)

This is just the beginning of JWST’s turn to the entire solar system. NASA plans to have the telescope study all the outer planets outside Mars and many of their moons. This includes Europe. In the next few years, JWST may be able to analyze the light from the water plume emitted from the European underground sea through the ice crust into space. The data can tell scientists about the composition of the ocean.

“I think this is just one of the coolest things we can do with this telescope in our solar system,” says Miram.

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