The James Webb space telescope has captured its first image of Neptune, revealing the most clearest photo in over 30 years, according to NASA. Some of the planet''s rings are not seen since NASA''s Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to observe Neptune during its flyby in 1989, according to the US space agency.
The Webb image demonstrates Neptune''s fainter dust bands out of several bright, narrow rings.
"It''s been three decades since we last saw these faint, dusty rings, and this is the first time we have seen them in the infrared," Heidi Hammel, a Webb system expert and interdisciplinary scientist, said in a statement.
Neptune is located 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth, and it is located in the remote, dark area of the outer solar system.
Due to its chemical composition, the planet is described as an ice giant. Neptune is a far greater variety of elements than Jupiter and Saturn''s.
Neptune''s signature blue appearance in Hubble Space Telescope images at visible wavelengths, caused by small amounts of gaseous methane. Webb''s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) has taken Objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns, thus Neptune does not appear blue to the telescope.
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The methane gas is so powerfully absorbing red and infrared light that the planet is quite dark at these near-infrared wavelengths, except where high-altitude clouds are present, according to researchers.
Over the years, images from other locations, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory, have captured these rapidly evolving cloud features.
According to NASA, a thin line of brightness circling the planet''s equator might be a visual representation of global atmospheric circulation that can influence Neptune''s winds and storms.
The atmosphere rises and warms at the equator, giving it greater clarity than the surrounding, cooler gases. For the first time, Webb has revealed a continuous band of high-latitude clouds around it.
Webb also uncovered seven of Neptune''s 14 known moons. Neptune''s huge and unusual moon, Triton, is a very bright light seen in Webb''s images.