Uranus and its moons are stunning in this image

It’s the James Webb Space Telescope’s surprise just before Christmas: a sublime image of Uranus. We discover a giant planet in the middle of galaxies, surrounded by its moons and rings.

Could Uranus be any more beautiful than in this previous image by James Webb? Yes, NASA’s space telescope has once again exceeded expectations. A new image of the ice giant planet, released on December 18, 2023 by NASA, shows the stunning Uranus with an impressive level of detail in its immediate surroundings.

Uranus stands out with its rings and moons against a beautiful background of bright galaxies. ” Uranus is a dynamic world with rings, moons, storms, extreme seasons and much more. Webb’s sensitivity even picked up a nearby, faint, diffuse and elusive zeta ring “, described by NASA on the X account dedicated to the space telescope. Thanks to James Webb’s infrared observations, we can delve into the details of Uranus like never before (yes, its name is funny, hehe haha​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Uranus shines in James Webb’s viewfinder. // Source: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI (cropped image)

A celestial portrait of Uranus, its moons and its rings

What exactly do we see in this great photo?

  • There is a bright white reflection on Uranus north polar cap planets,
  • We can distinguish around it inner and outer rings Uranus, despite their low luminosity. The Zeta ring is closest to the planet,
  • They are around 14 of the 27 moons of Uranus : Oberon, Titania, Umbriel, Juliet, Perdita, Rosalind, Puck, Belinda, Desdemona, Cressida, Ariel, Miranda, Bianca, Portia.
Uranus and its moons, image with caption.  // Source: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI (cropped image)
Uranus and its moons, image with caption. // Source: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI (cropped image)

Take a picture of me if you can

To understand how extraordinary this picture is, bringing together so many elements, we have to realize that Uranus’ rotation is particularly fast. A day on Uranus is only about 17 hours long. In short, its speed makes it difficult to take a photo. ” Storms and other atmospheric features, as well as the planet’s moons, visibly move within minutes. This image combines several longer and shorter exposures of this dynamic system to correct for these minute changes over the observation time », summarizes the space agency.

Uranus is one of the most extreme planets in the solar system. With its 98-degree inclination, Uranus is tilted and appears to roll in its orbit around the Sun. As a result, the seasons on this planet seem like an eternity: winter lasts 21 years! If we plan to approach Uranus again in the future to explore it, any data on its special properties will be valuable. Uranus can even serve as a model for studying some surprising exoplanets.

For the next

Uranus photographed in 1986. // Source: Flickr/CC/Kevin Gill (cropped photo)

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