New, unprecedented images of Jupiter have been captured by the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope.
The James Webb Space Telescope images show auroras, giant storms, moons and rings around Jupiter that astronomers are describing as “incredible”.
European Space Agency’s Olivier Witasse told Morning Report the images show a completely new view of the planet.
The two images are from the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) which has three specialized filters to show the planet in detail.
But because these are infrared images, and the human eye cannot see infrared, the colors shown do not reflect reality.
The standalone view of Jupiter was created from a composite of several images, Nasa said.
Auroras can be seen in the images too.
“That’s very interesting because we know that Jupiter has got some aurora, a little bit like the the Earth because of the strong magnetic field of Jupiter and Webb is revealing this aurora in the infrared light,” Witasse said.
The Great Red Spot, a famous storm so big it could swallow Earth, appears in white – this again was because of the infrared imaging.
The images would help to show how the storm developed over time, Witasse said.
“It’s very important because it’s the longest storm ever seen in the solar system – we’ve seen it for the last 400 years.
“Over the last 20 years or so we’ve even seen that the storm is decreasing in size and we don’t know what happened there.”
Jupiter has 79 moons, two are shown on the new images: Amalthea and Adrastea.
“When we have seen these images, the first emotion is feeling that they are really beautiful and then there are so many details that mean great science will come out of that,” Witasse said.
“We can really tell that is the beginning of planetary science with the Webb telescope.”
The Webb telescope would monitor Jupiter for the next 20 years.