Research, Technology

New images of Jupiter reveal the secrets of the gas giant

The solar system boasts differentplanets. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars have a similar composition and are rocky planets. Gaseous Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are in the external environment of our star system - beyond the orbit of Mars and the asteroid belt. This difference divides the solar system in half, and Jupiter has long been thought to be the culprit. This gas giant, however, is hardly a "separator", and interest in it is constantly growing. So, the newest space observatory "James Webb" sent to Earth pictures of the planet, which show thin lines of rings surrounding Jupiter. Recall that Webb observes space in the infrared range, considering both the distant corners of the Universe and the bodies of the solar system - we have never seen Jupiter like this.

Jupiter as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope


  • 1 How to see Jupiter?
  • 2 Clouds and moons of Jupiter
  • 3 "James Webb" photographed Jupiter
  • 4 Ghost planet

How to see Jupiter?

The largest planet in the solar system isof hydrogen and helium surrounding a dense icy and rocky core. This gas giant is so large that an observer from Earth can see it with the naked eye - from here, Jupiter appears as a bright reddish star. One of the main characteristics of the planet is the famous "Great Red Spot", which appeared as a result of strong atmospheric pressure and high-flying clouds.

"Great Red Spot" Jupiter is formed by cloud and turbulentthe planet's atmosphere. In reality, it is a gigantic and persistent hurricane, with wind speeds of up to 402 kilometers per hour, and its duration is at least 300 years - Russian cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky, Amazing Planets.

First composite photo of Jupiter taken from aboardNASA's Cassini spacecraft during its rendezvous with the planet in 2000. This portrait consists of twenty-seven separate shots that show the sophisticated viewer the finest details - reddish and white stripes, the "Great Red Spot" and cream-colored ovals.

There is no solid surface under Jupiter's clouds, unlike the terrestrial planets.

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The world first saw pictures of Jupiter in 1979,when the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft approached the gas giant. Today, both ships are very far from the Earth, and communication with them will be lost in the near future. I told you more about the adventures of these space wanderers here, I recommend reading it.

Clouds and moons of Jupiter

In 2007, the New Horizons probe sent images back to Earth of the gas giant's four largest moons. Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callista are called Galilean moons by astronomers, which are among the largest satellites in the solar system, and can be observed with a small telescope.

Sending various spacecraft, including probes and telescopes, is the best way to study the planets of the solar system. Thanks to the received pictures, we learned, among other things, about Jupiter's auroras during solar storms: when electrons slam into the planet's atmosphere, the molecules in it release additional energy in the form of light, creating dancing auroras.

Composite image of Jupiter with NIRCam

Other clouds deeper in the atmosphereplanets are shown in shades of blue. The Great Red Spot also reflects sunlight, causing it to glow white in the resulting images. A huge number of photos of Jupiter were taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, which was replaced by the new James Webb Observatory, turning its gaze to the fifth planet from the Sun.

More about the planets of the solar system: Pluto may be the last habitable planet in the solar system in 5 billion years

"James Webb" photographed Jupiter

The gas giant Saturn, Jupiter's closest neighbor,is the proud owner of ice rings that distinguish it from other bodies in our star system. You can see the rings of Saturn through a telescope, and dozens of moons revolve around the planet. Surprisingly, now we know that Jupiter also has rings, really. there are only two of them and they are very thin.

Recall that Webb is equipped with an infrared cameraNIRcam used to photograph Jupiter. In the course of the work, the researchers compared each wavelength of infrared radiation with the corresponding visible color: longer wavelengths are converted to shades of red, while shorter wavelengths are converted to shades of blue.

Jupiter in infrared. The image was taken by the NIRcam instrument mounted on the James Webb Space Telescope.

By combining several shots, Webb's teamreceived a stunning view of this gaseous world, which we are used to seeing in warm colors. In the new images, however, the gas giant appears pale and ghostly.

Earlier we talked about the achievements of the new James Webb Space Telescope, don't miss it!

ghost planet

But back to the rings of Jupiter, take a picturewhich are not easy, as they are made up of tiny dust particles that do not reflect much light. Now astronomers are determined to find out the origin of the dust that envelops the planet and created the rings. Presumably the dust comes from the smallest moons of Jupiter. Recall that this gas giant is the owner of 79 satellites.

these images have been filtered, so some colors look different and the planet itself is darker.

The new images show Jupiter against a black, and the multi-colored swirls of the planet indicate its turbulent atmosphere. The "Great Red Spot" also did not escape the infrared observatory and glows white in the resulting images, reflecting sunlight.

What do you think will happen if humans decide to land on Jupiter? The answer is here, read on!

“Honestly, we did not expect that everything would work outso good,” Imcke de Pater, professor emeritus of astronomy at the University of California, who helped conduct observations of Jupiter, told reporters. "This is probably the first time we've seen Jupiter surrounded by rings, tiny moons and even galaxies in the background."

Interesting fact
Jupiter's age is about the same assolar system, which is estimated to have happened about 4.5 billion years ago. The gas giant got its name in honor of the ancient Roman supreme god of thunder and is located about 612 million kilometers from Earth.

Replacing the space telescopeThe $10 billion Hubble Webb launched into Earth orbit earlier this year and has been observing space and the solar system ever since. With its help, astronomers intend to look into the distant past of the universe and see the formation of the very first stars and galaxies. The space observatory itself is located at the so-called Lagrange point, at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

Just look at this beauty! Before us is Jupiter and its immediate environment

In fact, Jupiter is more difficult to work with thanmore distant space objects, as the planet rotates rapidly. Combining several images into one is also not easy and takes a lot of time. Sometimes researchers have to make adjustments to position images correctly, NASA said in a statement.

In a press release, experts point to the possibilitylook at Jupiter in a new way. And this, of course, is only the beginning - James Webb will be the main driving force behind scientific discoveries for at least the next 20 years.