Stunning images taken by the new James Webb Space Telescope, revealed to the public this week, show Jupiter in all its glory. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and the fifth from the Sun. It is twice as massive as all other stars combined. In an attempt to explain the proportions between the stars, NASA spokesmen said that if Earth were the size of a grape, Jupiter would be the size of a basketball.
Now, NASA’s space telescope has captured images showing Jupiter’s giant storms, its haloes and faint rings. “We’ve never seen Jupiter like this. It’s amazing,” said planetary astronomer Imka Depater, professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. “To be honest, we didn’t expect the pictures to be this good.”
De Pater led the observations of Jupiter with Professor Thierry Fouch of the Paris Observatory as part of an international collaboration. The photos were already taken in July and published by NASA this week, calling it “big news from a big star”.
“It’s amazing that we can see the details of Jupiter even in one image, along with Jupiter’s rings, small moons and galaxies,” de Pater said in a press release.
The state-of-the-art telescope is named after James A. Webb, who ran the American space agency from 1961 to 1968 in its infancy. The telescope, which was launched into space last year, is the product of an international collaboration led by NASA between the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. Last month, NASA released the first images and data captured and collected. Revolutionary telescope reveals dazzling cosmic display of colliding galaxies and a dying star.
Two images of Jupiter published this week include several images captured by the telescope using a special camera equipped with infrared filters that show many details of the planet. Because infrared light is invisible to the human eye, NASA says the images were artificially colored to translate them into the visible color range and make various details stand out.
Unlike Earth, Jupiter has no solid landmass. It is a gas giant composed mostly of hydrogen and helium. Scientists think it has the same basic ingredients as the Sun, but unlike it, it never got big enough to burn. It also has some rings, but unlike Saturn’s they are faint and made of space dust rather than ice.
In a wider view, the new images show Jupiter with its faint rings and two smaller moons called Amalthea and Adrastia. “This single image summarizes the scientific achievements of our Jupiter System program, which studies the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter itself, its rings and moon system,” Pusha said.
Jupiter has at least 50 moons that span about ten hours. The big four – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – were first observed in 1610 by the Italian physicist Galileo Galilei. The images also captured Jupiter’s well-known Great Red Spot, which appears white in photographs because it reflects sunlight, according to NASA. The Great Red Spot is a storm larger than the diameter of the entire Earth that has battered the planet for centuries. .
As part of a renewed era in space exploration, NASA announced last week that it has discovered 13 landing zones on our moon and plans to send astronauts back there as part of the Artemis program. At the same time, a clip of the “remix sounds” of a black hole shared by NASA during an audio weekend caused consternation. The clip was edited to be audible to humans, but NASA said the sound emanating from a galaxy cluster 240 million light-years away disproves the misconception that there are no sounds in space.
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