New Web telescopic images show Jupiter in a new light

New Web telescopic images show Jupiter in a new light

Data collected during the telescope’s commissioning period, before its scientific operations officially began on July 12, have been published on the website of the Space Telescope Science Institute. The publicly available data are now ready for researchers around the world to study.

These data include new images of Jupiter, which were taken while the Space Observatory’s instruments were still being tested.

“Combined with the deep-field images released the other day, these images of Jupiter demonstrate a full understanding of what Webb can observe, from the faintest, most distant observable galaxies to planets in our own cosmic backyard that you can see with the naked eye from your actual backyard , “said Bryan Holler, a researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, in a statement.

Holler helped plan the observations.

Webb is an infrared telescope, so it captures light that is invisible to the human eye. One of Webb’s images of Jupiter shows the giant planet’s revealing atmospheric band as well as the large red spot.

This known property is a massive storm that is about twice the size of the Earth that has been raging for over a century. It appears white in the image due to the processing of the infrared image.

Europe, one of Jupiter’s moons, is visible to the left of the planet. The shadow of the moon also makes a cameo to the left of the large red spot.

Jupiter, the center, and the moon Europa, on the left, are seen through the Web Telescope's NIRCam instrument.

“I could not believe that we saw everything so clearly, and how bright they were,” said Stefanie Milam, Webb’s deputy project scientist for planetary science based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in a statement.

“It is very exciting to think about the ability and opportunity we have to observe such objects in our solar system.”

Some of the telescope’s other perspectives on Jupiter revealed some of the planet’s weak rings. The images prove that Webb is able to observe faint details and objects near bright planets such as Jupiter and Saturn.
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This is particularly exciting because it means that Webb may also be able to observe shocks of material released into space from ocean worlds in our solar system, such as Europe or Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

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“We will look at our own solar system with new infrared eyes, look for chemical traces of our history and track down mysteries such as Jupiter’s large red spot, the composition of the ocean under Europe’s ice and the atmosphere of Saturn’s giant moon. Titan,” said John Mather, Webb senior project researcher at NASA Goddard, in a statement.

The first pictures were expected of Mather in 25 years. “What comes next? All the tools work, better than we hoped and promised. Scientific observations, proposed years ago, are being made while we talk,” Mather said.

“We want to know: Where did we come from? What happened after the big bang to make galaxies and stars and black holes? We have predictions and guesses, but astronomy is an observational science, full of surprises.”

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