An impressive image of Jupiter is the one who captured the James Webb Space Telescopesince in the beautiful postcard you can see very well auroras, mists, rings and the satellites of the gas giant.
“We really didn’t expect it to be that good, to be honest,” said planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. De Pater led the Jupiter observations with Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, as part of an international collaboration for Webb’s Early Release Science program. Webb is an international mission led by NASA with its partners ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). “It’s really remarkable that we can see details about Jupiter along with its rings, small satellites and even galaxies in one image,” he said.
The two images come from the observatory’s near-infrared camera (NIRCam), which has three specialized infrared filters that show details of the planet. Since infrared light is invisible to the human eye, the light has been mapped onto the visible spectrum.
Auroras spread at high altitudes over Jupiter’s north and south poles. Auroras glow in a filter that maps to redder colors, which also brings out reflected light from lower clouds and upper mists. A different filter, mapped to yellows and greens, shows haze swirling around the north and south poles. A third filter, mapped to blues, shows light reflecting off a deeper main cloud.
In a wide-field view, Webb sees Jupiter with its faint rings, which are a million times fainter than the planet, and two small moons named Amalthea and Adrasthea. The fuzzy spots in the lower background are probably galaxies “photobombing” this Jovian view.
“This image sums up the science of our Jupiter system program, which studies the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter, its rings, and its satellite system,” Fouchet said. Researchers have already begun analyzing the Webb data for new scientific results about the largest planet in our solar system.