NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is honing in on planets in our solar system, with NASA's newest observatory focusing its instruments on Neptune.
NASA has announced in a new release that researchers have used Webb's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) to reveal an incredible view of Neptune's rings, which haven't been imaged at this level of clarity since NASA's Voyager 2 probe flew past the planet in 1989. Neptune is located approximately 30 times father from the Sun than Earth, making it our solar system's most distant planet.
Additionally, planets such as Neptune and Uranus are ice giants and are different to the gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn. Ice giants are mostly composed of gaseous methane versus gas giants being almost entirely composed of hydrogen and helium. The methane that is present in ice giants such as Neptune and Uranus give it the blue color when observed through the visual light spectrum.
Furthermore, the above image showcases Neptune's nitrogen-covered moon Triton, which is outshining the planet in terms of brightness. Since Neptune is mostly methane and methane strongly absorbs infrared light, Webb's infrared camera that was used to observe the planet shows Neptune being relatively dim when compared to Triton. The white streaks or specks seen across the surface of Neptune are a result of high altitude methane ice that is reflecting sunlight.
In other space news, a video of an incredible fireball streaking across the night sky has been confirmed by officials to be a meteor approximately the size of a golf ball.