Not even scientists expected that the images of Jupiter captured by the Webb telescope would be so good
(CNN) — Rainbow auroras, giant storms and distant galaxies are shown in the latest images of Jupiter from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
“We really didn’t expect it to be that good, to be honest,” planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a press release.
De Pater and Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, conducted observations of the largest planet in our solar system using the Webb telescope, which is itself an international effort by NASA with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, he said. The NASA.
Painting a picture that ranges from orange and yellow at Jupiter’s poles to blues and purples towards the center, multiple telescope images came together to form an overall composition and gave Earth a look at the gas giant.
You can also see faint rings and distant galaxies “invading the photo” in the background, according to NASA.
And Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, a storm big enough to engulf Earth, appears white in these images.
“The many bright-white ‘spots’ and ‘streaks’ are likely high-altitude cloud tops from condensed convective storms,” said Heidi Hammel, Webb interdisciplinary scientist for solar system observations and vice president for science at the Association of Universities. for Research in Astronomy.
The scientists collaborated with citizen scientist Judy Schmidt to translate the data to form the telescope’s composite images, which help give a better view of life on Jupiter, NASA said.
Jupiter is hard to translate into images because of how fast it spins, said Schmidt, who lives in Modesto, California.
“This image summarizes the science of our Jupiter system program, which studies the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter itself, its rings, and its satellite system,” Fouchet said.
But Jupiter is not Webb’s only subject. The space telescope is using infrared light to reveal otherwise invisible aspects of the universe.
Development of the world’s leading space observatory began in 2004, and after years of delays, the telescope and its huge golden mirror were finally launched on December 25, 2021.
The telescope will observe every phase of cosmic history, including the first afterglows after the big bang that created our universe and the formation of the galaxies, stars and planets that populate it today.
The telescope is also discovering and observing exoplanetary systems, each of which consists of a planet outside our solar system and its host star.
Some of these exoplanets are potentially habitable, and observing their atmosphere could uncover clues in the ongoing search for life beyond Earth.
CNN’s Ashley Strickland and Megan Marples contributed to this report.