Science

The Webb team just secretly dropped a picture of Jupiter, and we can’t stop staring

The Webb team just secretly dropped a picture of Jupiter, and we can't stop staring
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This morning we were in a frenzy over a sneaky sideways glance at a galaxy revealed in the first full-color images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)..

But if you thought that was wild, then wait for it: turns out JWST also released some clandestine pics of Jupiter! And they are ridiculously beautiful.

These images, taken by JWST during testing, were provided in JWST Commissioning Report.

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 the shadow of Europa in the image to the left, right next to the planet’s turbulent and notorious Big red spot.

Screenshot from 07/13/2022 at 11:58:42(NASA, ESA, CSA and STScI)

Above: The image on the left was acquired by the JWST near-infrared camera with a filter that emphasizes short wavelengths. The right image was taken with a filter that emphasizes long wavelengths of light.

The images were taken by JWST’s near infrared camera (NIRCam) and they use two different filters that emphasize different wavelengths of light.

Part of the test was to ensure JWST could track fast-moving objects through the solar system.

To do this, JWST photographed nine targets, and Jupiter was the slowest moving – but, as you can see, one of the most impressive.

The test also showed that it is possible to use JWST to photograph details such as moons and rings around a planet as bright as Jupiter.

“Observing a bright planet and its satellites and rings should be challenging due to stray light that can affect the scientific instrument used, but the fine guidance sensor must also track guide stars near the bright planet.” explains the commissioning report.

“These observations confirmed the expectation that guide star detection will work successfully as long as Jupiter is at least 140 inches from the FGS, which is consistent with pre-flight modeling.”

That’s all good news, as it means JWST will be useful in tracking things like near-Earth objects and comets.

Overall, the commissioning report shows that JWST performs even better than expected.

“The key finding from the six month commissioning is this: JWST is fully capable of making the discoveries it was built for. JWST was envisioned “to enable fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and planetary systems ‘,” write the authors in the report.

“We now know with certainty that it will be.”

We look forward to more photo drops in the coming weeks and months!

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