Uranus close-up view (NIRCam)
This image of Uranus from NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) on the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope shows the planet and its rings in new clarity. The Webb image exquisitely captures Uranus’s seasonal north polar cap, including the bright, white, inner cap and the dark lane in the bottom of the polar cap. Uranus’ dim inner and outer rings are also visible in this image, including the elusive Zeta ring—the extremely faint and diffuse ring closest to the planet.
This Webb image also shows 9 of the planet’s 27 moons. They are the blue dots that surround the planet’s rings. Clockwise starting at 2 o’clock, they are: Rosalind, Puck, Belinda, Desdemona, Cressida, Bianca, Portia, Juliet, and Perdita. The orbits of these moons share the 98-degree tilt of their parent planet relative to the plane of the solar system.
One day on Uranus is about 17 hours, so the planet’s rotation is relatively quick. This makes it supremely difficult for observatories with a sharp eye like Webb to capture one simple image of the entire planet – storms and other atmospheric features, and the planet’s moons, move visibly within minutes. This image combines several longer and shorter exposures of this dynamic system to correct for those slight changes throughout the observing time
[Image description: The planet Uranus on a black background. The planet appears blue with a large, white patch taking up the right half. The patch is whitest at the centre, then fades into blue as it expands from right to left. A thin outline of Uranus is also white. Around the planet is a system of nested rings. The outermost ring is the brightest while the innermost ring is the faintest. Unlike Saturn’s horizontal rings, the rings of Uranus are vertical and so they appear to surround the planet in an oval shape. There are 9 blueish white dots scattered around the rings.]Credit:
NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
About the Image
|18 December 2023, 16:00
|566 x 409 px