Uranus widefield 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 planet’s seasonal north polar cap gleams in a bright white, and Webb’s exquisite sensitivity resolves Uranus’ dim inner and outer rings, including the Zeta ring—the extremely faint and diffuse ring closest to the planet.
This Webb image also shows 14 of the planet’s 27 moons: Oberon, Titania, Umbriel, Juliet, Perdita, Rosalind, Puck, Belinda, Desdemona, Cressida, Ariel, Miranda, Bianca, and Portia.
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.
Webb’s extreme sensitivity also picks up a smattering of background galaxies—most appear as orange smudges, and there are two larger, fuzzy white galaxies to the right of the planet in this field of view.
[Image description: An image with a black background. The planet Uranus is a glowing orb near the centre surrounded by rings. 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 at it expands from right to left. A thin outline of Uranus is also white. Around the planet is a system of nested rings. There are faint orange and off-white smudges, some oval, some circular, that are background galaxies scattered throughout the image. Several bright blue point sources closer to Uranus are the planet’s moons. There is also a bright star at the left of the field, with 8 diffraction spikes.]Credit:
NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI
About the Image
|18 December 2023, 16:00
|3771 x 3189 px