This morning we were in a frenzy over a hidden glimpse of a galaxy revealed in the first full-color images of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
But if you thought that was wild, wait for this: It turns out that JWST has also dropped some cryptic images of Jupiter! And they are ridiculously beautiful.
These images, taken during JWST testing, were provided at JWST Commissioning Report.
— Erin M. May, Ph.D. (@_astronomay) 12 July 2022
The images, which you can see in more detail below, show Jupiter and its rings as well as three of its moons: Europa, Thebes, and Metis.
You can also see Europa’s shadow in the image on the left, right next to the planet’s noisy and infamous Great Red Spot.
Above: The image on the left was captured by the JWST near-infrared camera using a filter that highlights short wavelengths. The image on the right is captured using a filter that highlights long wavelengths of light.
Photos were taken by JWST Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and they use two different filters that highlight separate wavelengths of light.
Part of the test was to ensure that JWST could track fast-moving objects across the solar system.
For this purpose, JWST photographed nine targets, and Jupiter was the slowest moving – but, as you can see, it was one of the most exciting.
The test also showed that it is possible to use JWST to image details such as moons and rings around a bright planet like Jupiter.
“It was expected that observing a bright planet and its moons and rings would be difficult, due to the scattered light that could affect the scientific instrument used, but also that the precision-guidance sensor must track the guiding stars near the bright planet,” Describe the commissioning report.
“These observations confirmed the expectation that the guiding star acquisition process works successfully as long as Jupiter is at least 140” away from the FGS, consistent with pre-flight modeling. “
This is all good news because it means that JWST will be useful for tracking things like near-Earth objects and comets.
In general, the operating report shows that JWST is performing better than expected.
“The main outcome of the six months of commissioning is: JWST is fully capable of making the discoveries for which it was created. JWST is envisioned ‘to enable fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and planetary systems,’” The authors write in the report.
“We now know for sure that she will.”
We look forward to more photo shoots in the coming weeks and months!
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