The images were taken using the telescope's near-infrared camera.
Though Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun, it is also the biggest. To put things into perspective, if Earth is the size of a grape, then Jupiter would be the size of a basketball, according to NASA.
And, to portray the magnificent planet in all its glory, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has taken stunning images that show its giant storms, auroras, and faint rings in more detail.
“We’ve never seen Jupiter like this. It’s all quite incredible,” said planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emerita of the University of California at Berkeley, per The Washington Post. “We hadn’t really expected it to be this good, to be honest,” she added in a statement, added NASA.
“It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image,” de Pater said in the statement.
As part of an international effort, De Pater oversaw the observations of Jupiter alongside Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory. The pictures were taken in July 2022 and released on August 22, 2022.
The telescope, worth $10 billion, is named after James E. Webb, who ran the then-fledgling U.S. space agency from 1961 to 1968. The telescope was launched in 2021 as part of an international collaboration with the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, led by NASA.
The images were taken using the telescope's near-infrared camera, which has three infrared filters "that showcase details of the planet" that can't be seen by the human eye, states USA Today.
First, a collection of images of the planet taken against the darkness of space was released. With green and yellow haze swirling around, the red and orange glow at the top and bottom of the planet depicts the auroras at the northern and southern poles. The vast majority of the planet appears blue, indicating that light is being reflected from a deeper main cloud, NASA said.
The infamous Great Red Spot on Jupiter is also visible in the photograph. The reason the storm is white is that the clouds reflect a lot of sunlight. It has a circumference larger than Earth, with winds that can reach 400 miles per hour.
"The numerous bright white ‘spots’ and ‘streaks’ are likely very high-altitude cloud tops of condensed convective storms," Heidi Hammel, Webb interdisciplinary scientist for solar system observations and vice president for science at the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, said in a statement.
The second image takes a wide look at the planet, and noticeable are rings around Jupiter, which "are a million times fainter than the planet," NASA shared. Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus are the planets with rings in our solar system.
While the small specs in the picture show two of the planet's at least 79 moons – Amalthea and Adrastea. Fuzzy spots in the distance are presumably other galaxies.
As NASA said, these images will give scientists more clues to discovering what Jupiter's inner life is like.
Cover Image Source: NASA