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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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Ghostly rings of Neptune shine in new James Webb Telescope images


When it comes to planetary rings, Saturn is the undisputed poster child. But now a new contender enters the, er, ring — courtesy of a stunning new image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

In the new picture, released today (Sept. 21) by the European Space Agency (ESA), our solar system‘s eighth planet Neptune shimmers like a glorious crystal ball, with a stack of gauzy rings wrapped magically around it.

Astronomers have known for several decades that the ice giant, located about 30 times farther from the sun than Earth, has five rings made chiefly of icy dust. The new image reveals those frigid rings in crisper detail than any survey has since the Voyager 2 probe passed within a few thousand miles of Neptune in 1989, according to the ESA.

The new James Webb Space Telescope images reveal 7 of Neptune’s 14 moons, including the large, bright moon Triton (top left). (Image credit: NASA/ESA/CSA and STScI)



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