NASA released new, highly detailed images of our solar system’s outermost planet on September 21, taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.
The telescope’s infrared instruments captured the clearest view of Neptune in more than 30 years, since NASA’s Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to observe Neptune during its flyby in 1989, according to NASA.
Webb’s new images provide a crisp view of the planet’s rings and also clearly shows some of Neptune’s fainter dust bands.
Beyond the planet itself, Webb also spotted seven of the planet’s 14 moons. “Dominating this Webb portrait of Neptune is a very bright point of light sporting the signature diffraction spikes seen in many of Webb’s images, but this is not a star.” NASA said, “Rather, this is Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton.”
Triton, which is larger than dwarf planet Pluto, appears brighter than Neptune because it is covered “in a frozen sheen of nitrogen” that reflects around 70 percent of the sunlight that hits it. Neptune meanwhile “absorbs most of the light falling on it." Credit: NASA via Storyful