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James Webb Space Telescope captures Neptune’s rings in new images

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NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

(NEW YORK) — NASA released new images of Neptune from the James Webb Space Telescope on Wednesday, showing off some of the planet’s rings.

This is the clearest view of Neptune’s rings in over 30 years since NASA’s Voyager 2 photographically captured the rings during a flyby in 1989, the agency said.

NASA said that the telescope’s advanced technology captures some of Neptune’s usually hard-to-see rings.

“It has been three decades since we last saw these faint, dusty rings, and this is the first time we’ve seen them in the infrared,” Heidi Hammel, an interdisciplinary scientist for the James Webb Telescope Project, said in a statement.

Neptune, the furthest planet in the solar system, is known as an “ice giant” alongside Uranus because the interior consists of denser chemicals than the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, according to NASA.

Usually appearing blue in images from the Hubble Space Telescope, Neptune appears more visible with the Webb telescope because it uses infrared technology that makes it easier to identify objects in space.

The James Webb Space Telescope also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 moons, with its largest moon Triton, which orbits the planet backward, appearing with diffraction spikes, which are seen in many pictures from Webb, NASA said.

According to the agency, the “ice giant” is located about 30 times farther from the sun than Earth, orbiting a remote dark region of the solar system. Neptune is so far from the sun that noon on the planet is like a dim twilight on Earth, NASA said in the press release.

First launched in December, the Webb telescope has been releasing pictures of deep space since July, offering millions of people a better look at galaxies and planets.

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