NASA reported in a blog post that the James Webb Space Telescope took amazing photographs of Jupiter, which depict auroras, enormous storms, and hazes on our solar system’s largest planet.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which was launched on Christmas Day last year, is the largest optical telescope in space. The JWST, the Hubble Space Telescope’s successor, is outfitted with high-resolution equipment that allows it to view things that the Hubble could not see because they were too far away or too dim.
The JWST is intended to look far back in time to help us comprehend the genesis of our galaxies and the earliest stars. Scientists must, however, evaluate the onboard equipment before launching on these trips. To do so, they have been taking pictures of objects in our solar system and learning new things about them.
Jupiter’s auroras and hazes
The JWST photographed Jupiter on July 27 using its Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), which has three specialized infrared filters. Scientists had to slightly adjust the photos and map them to the visible spectrum because infrared light is not visible to the human eye.
The longest wavelengths were displayed near the red end of the spectrum, while the shortest wavelengths were depicted near the blue end. Several pictures were combined to create a single image that caught a variety of planet-wide occurrences.
The image shows auroras at high altitudes around the planet’s northern and southern poles, which have been traced in red. A separate filter that maps color from yellow to green reveals hazes whirling around the poles, while a third filter shows blue light reflected from deeper clouds.
The Great Red Spot, the planet’s largest storm, appears white in these photos. This is also the color chosen to show other clouds on the planet since they reflect a lot of sunlight, according to the blog article.
The JWST’s wide-field picture of Jupiter also shows faint rings around the planet. According to NASA, the ring is a million times fainter than the planet. Two of the planet’s moons, Amalthea and Adrastea, can also be seen in this view, and the flaky white specks are most likely faraway galaxies picked up by the telescope’s sensors.
“Although we’ve observed many of these features on Jupiter previously,” said Imke de Pater, a planetary astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley. “JWST’s combination of near- and mid-infrared images and spectra will enable us to explore the interplay of dynamics, chemistry, and temperature structure in and above the Great Red Spot and auroral areas.”
The JWST, on the other hand, does not send these photographs to us. Instead, its detectors simply communicate data about the brightness of collected light to the Space Telescope Science Institute, which analyses it and prepares it for distribution in the form shown below. Citizen scientists are sometimes involved in the process, and the photographs above were processed with the assistance of one such citizen scientist, Judy Schmidt, according to the NASA blog article.