NASA releases ‘remarkable’ images of Neptune’s rings seen for the first time in infrared

NASA releases ‘remarkable’ images of Neptune’s rings seen for the first time in infrared

NASA releases ‘remarkable’ images of Neptune’s rings seen for the first time in infrared

Webb's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) takes images of objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns (NASA)

Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) takes images of objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns (NASA)

NASA has released new images of Neptune’s planetary rings in what has been heralded as some of the clearest images of the planet in decades.

The images were taken by the James Webb Space Telescope and show the rings around the planet for the first time since the Voyager 2 mission flew by the ice giant in 1989.

Not only is the planet seen in dazzlingly clear images, but the dust rings around the ice giant are also faintly visible.

“It’s been three decades since we last saw these faint, dusty rings, and this is the first time we’ve seen them in the infrared,” said Heidi Hammel, a Neptune system expert and interdisciplinary scientist for the Webb project.

Webb's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) takes images of objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns (NASA)

Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) takes images of objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns (NASA)

In 1989, the planet was shown to be a single blue object with no visible rings.

In the latest images from the Webb project, the planet is seen as gray-white with clouds dotted over the surface.

The image also shows seven of Neptune’s 14 moons, including Triton which shines brightly like a star as it is made up of frozen, condensed nitrogen, which reflects a large amount of sunlight.

The Webb telescope is the most powerful of its kind ever built, giving astronomers the ability to analyze never-before-seen data since its launch last year.

Amazing images from the James Webb Space Telescope

Nasa sends the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the world's most advanced space telescope, to the Piccadilly Lights display in London.  Experts say early observations expected to change face of astronomy forever (PA)

Nasa sends the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s most advanced space telescope, to the Piccadilly Lights display in London. Experts say early observations expected to change face of astronomy forever (PA)

The dawn of a new era in astronomy has begun as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (ESA/Webb/AFP via Getty Images)

The dawn of a new era in astronomy has begun as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (ESA/Webb/AFP via Getty Images)

The bright star at the center of NGC 3132, although prominent when seen by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in near-infrared light, plays a supporting role in sculpting the surrounding nebula.  A second star, barely visible in the lower left along one of the bright stellar diffraction spikes, is the source of the nebulae.  It has ejected at least eight layers of gas and dust over thousands of years (NASA)

The bright star at the center of NGC 3132, although prominent when seen by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in near-infrared light, plays a supporting role in sculpting the surrounding nebula. A second star, barely visible in the lower left along one of the bright stellar diffraction spikes, is the source of the nebulae. It has ejected at least eight layers of gas and dust over thousands of years (NASA)

A person takes a video of giant screens showing images taken by The James Webb Space Telescope in Times Square (AFP via Getty Images)

A person takes a video of giant screens showing images taken by The James Webb Space Telescope in Times Square (AFP via Getty Images)

The landscape of mountains and valleys dotted with twinkling stars is actually the edge of a nearby young star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula (Getty Images/2022 NASA)

The landscape of mountains and valleys dotted with twinkling stars is actually the edge of a nearby young star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula (Getty Images/2022 NASA)

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan's Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, in a new light (Getty Images)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, in a new light (Getty Images)

Images taken by The James Webb Space Telescope are displayed on screens in Times Square (AFP via Getty Images)

Images taken by The James Webb Space Telescope are displayed on screens in Times Square (AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden previews the first color image from the Webb Space Telescope (NASA via Getty Images)

President Biden previews the first color image from the Webb Space Telescope (NASA via Getty Images)

The 'deepest' and most detailed image of the cosmos to date (PA Media)

The ‘deepest’ and most detailed image of the cosmos to date (PA Media)

Images taken by The James Webb Space Telescope are displayed on screens in Times Square (AFP via Getty Images)

Images taken by The James Webb Space Telescope are displayed on screens in Times Square (AFP via Getty Images)

Images released by Nasa show a side-by-side comparison of observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, left, and mid-infrared light, right, from the Webb Telescope (AP)

Images released by Nasa show a side-by-side comparison of observations of the Southern Ring Nebula in near-infrared light, left, and mid-infrared light, right, from the Webb Telescope (AP)

Mark McCaughrean, senior adviser for science and exploration at the European Space Agency added: “The kind of astronomy we see now was unthinkable five years ago.

“Obviously we knew it would do this, we built it to do this, that’s exactly the machine we designed.

“But to suddenly start seeing things in these longer wavelengths, which was impossible before is just absolutely remarkable.”

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