Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and Jupiter ERS Team; Image processing by Ricardo Hueso/UPV/EHU and Judy Schmidt
Topics: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Planetary Science, Space Exploration
Jupiter’s rings, its moons Amalthea (bright point at left) and Adrastea (faint dot at left tip of rings), and even background galaxies are visible in this image from JWST’s NIRCam instrument. Whiter areas on the planet represent regions with more cloud cover, which reflects sunlight, especially Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot; darker spots have fewer clouds. Perhaps the most stunning feature is the blue glow of the planet’s auroras at the north and south poles. These light shows result when high-energy particles streaming off the sun hit atoms in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Auroras are found on any planet with an atmosphere and a magnetic field, which steers the sun’s particles to the poles; besides Earth and Jupiter, telescopes have seen auroras on Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
The Best of JWST’s Cosmic Portraits, Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American