Stunning New James Webb Images Make Jupiter Look Like A Psychedelic Space Marble

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The most powerful telescope in space has turned to the largest planet in the solar system, revealing a dazzling new perspective of a world that has captivated humans for thousands of years.

With its swirling clouds of gas and radiant auroras, Jupiter is an especially photogenic target for amateur skywatchers and professional astronomers. Today, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the most sensitive observatory in space, captured extraordinary infrared images of the planet, which reveal its swirling gas clouds, bright auroras and system of intricate rings with exquisite detail.

The resolution of the images is so high that distant galaxies can be seen in the background “photobombing” Jupiter, according to a NASA statement on Monday.

“To be honest, we didn’t really expect it to be this good,” Imke de Pater, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, who co-led JWST’s Jupiter observations, said in the release. . “It’s truly remarkable that we can see details of Jupiter with its rings, tiny satellites and even galaxies in a single image.”

JWST, which launched in December, is a collaborative project between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. With 100 times the observing power of the Hubble Space Telescope, the new observatory can peer into the distant universe, but it also changes our view of vistas much closer to home.

Its new images of Jupiter, for example, were captured in infrared light by JWST’s near-infrared camera (NIRCam), which is why this massive gas giant appears more eerily spectral than previous optical images that burst with color. Because humans can’t see infrared light, these composite shots were adjusted by citizen scientist Judy Schmidt into a visible light palette, with brighter spots generally indicating regions at higher elevations.

Jupiter’s energetic auroras, which are not yet fully understood, shine at the massive planet’s poles. A larger shot of the gas giant includes its so-called “dark ring system,” which is mostly made up of faint dust particles, as well as two small Jovian moons called Amalthea and Adrastea.

The stunning shots of Jupiter are just the latest in a barrage of new and exciting sightings from JWST, which released its first images in July. Although the telescope team is still calibrating and perfecting its capabilities, the complex mission is already exceeding expectations and changing our understanding of the universe on a local and cosmic scale.

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